Unzen Toy Museum
Nostalgia in Nagasaki.
A bit away from the smoky hells of Unzen Onsen in Nagasaki Prefecture are quieter residential streets with only a few bathhouses. Among these short Japanese-style buildings, however, stands a nostalgic toy museum. The Unzen Toy Museum is itself a unique three-story half-timbered house packed with the cutest antique Japanese toys. When you walk closer to the building, it’s hard not to press your nose up against the glass doors showcasing the colorful trinkets lining the walls inside.
The first floor of the toy museum is a shop offering more than 2,000 cheap toys and sweets that you can choose from! Walk around with caution though, as you may knock your head against some inflatable toys dangling from the ceiling. On this floor, you’ll find mini bun-shaped biscuits, popping candy, mega dried squid and ramune (Japanese soda water) of different flavors. Probably the most interesting and interactive candy here is the “ito-hiki” candy (糸引き飴 in Japanese) — literally meaning candy “pulled by string.” You will choose and pull a string out of a jar, knowing that a hard candy is attached to the end of each string. Though, the mystery of not knowing the candy’s color and flavor makes it all the more engaging!
The nostalgic toys have been passed down for generations. Also for sale on the first floor are toys that many Japanese adults might have been obsessed with when they were young, including hand clappers, kendama toys, menko (Japanese card game), plastic character masks and photos of Japanese pop icons — to name a few.
The second floor of the building is a museum displaying more than 5,000 antique toys collected by the shop owner from the 1940s to 1980s. You will find retro items ranging from old posters, playing cards, magazines, popular Japanese TV figures, Rika-chan dolls and tin car toys, etc.
Time goes by quickly while you’re in the museum, just as how you may have time-slipped to your childhood as you gaze at the simple, nostalgic toys. If anything, the elderly couple owning the shop only adds more charm to the old-fashioned store.