Music boxes have been popular for decades with children, collectors, and historians alike. Would you like to listen to the gentle music from a hundred years past? Or do you fancy making your own music box? Visit these music box museums in Japan and you can do both!
The oldest music box, invented by Swiss watchmaker Antoine Favre (アントア・ファーブル) in 1796, is on display at the Kyoto Arashiyama Orgel Museum. The second floor of the building houses the museum and its collection of over 150 different types of music boxes.
The museum holds lectures and demonstrations where you can learn more about the music boxes and automata. It is amazing to see how most of them are still fully operational! On the ground floor, there is a café where you can relax while listening to music and a gift shop where you can get your very own music box.
The admission fee is 1,000 yen for adults and 300 yen for elementary school students. A 10% discount is given to a group of ten or more, but advance reservation is required. Visitors are given a postcard and museum brochure upon entry.
The Kyoto Arashiyama Orgel Museum is very accessible and is a 5-minute walk from Saga Arashiyama Station (嵯峨嵐山駅) on the JR line. The museum is located near the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove and not to be mistaken with the Kyoto Music Box Museum Arashiyama near the Togetsukyo Bridge (渡月橋). The latter is more of a store with a wide selection of music boxes for sale.
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The Music Box Museum of Izu’s collection includes cylinder music boxes dated as early as 1860 from Switzerland. They also have disc music boxes from the 1890s to the early 1900s from different countries including those from Germany, Switzerland, America, and Japan. They have a total of 65 music boxes in their collection.
The museum also has about 50 automatic musical instruments such as organs and pianos. Perhaps the oldest instrument in this collection is the barrel organ by James Davis which dates back to the 1800s. On display also are organettes and accordion.
The Music Box Museum of Izu also holds a 30-minute performance with their music boxes, reproducing pianos, orchestrions, and other musical instruments. Every day, there are eight performances with one-hour intervals starting from 9:20am. The last session is at 4:00pm.
The museum is open from 9:10am to 4:30pm, with the last admission 4:00pm. There is an admission fee of 860 yen for adults and 430 yen for junior high and elementary school students.
The museum is a six-minute walk from Izu-Kōgen Station (伊豆高原駅) on the Izu Kyūkō Line.
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Opened in 1999, the Hamanako Music Box Museum is home to about 70 different types of musical instruments including a carillon, cylinder music boxes, disc music boxes, gramophone machines, orchestrion, an automatic performance piano and an automatic performance organ.
At the ground floor of the museum, you will find the museum shop with an extensive selection of music boxes. Don’t miss the studio where you can assemble and decorate your own music box! There are over 80 tunes to choose from, including pop music, nursery rhymes, and classical music. You can personalize your music box with the assorted cases such as glass, acrylic, and wood. The price range is about 1,500 to 2,500 yen depending on the materials used. Production time takes around 10-30 minutes.
A 20-30 minute music box demonstration is held on the second floor of the museum using an automatic performance piano, automatic performance organ, and automata. Schedule of the demonstration varies depending on the time and commentators. At the museum’s rooftop, you can also enjoy an overlooking view of Lake Hamana (浜名湖) while listening to the melodies of a carillon played every hour.
Admission fee to the Hamanako Music Box Museum is 820 yen for adults and 410 yen for elementary students. There is also an option to purchase the admission fee and Kanzanji (かんざんじ) Ropeway package, which costs 1,450 yen for adults and 700 yen for elementary students.
A couple’s ticket, which includes the museum admission fee, ropeway fee, and music box studio fee, is also available for 5,200 yen and good for two people. From December to February, the museum is open from 9:00am to 4:00pm while from March to November, it is open from 9:00am to 5:00pm depending on the day.
The museum is located on top of Mt. Okusa (大草山) and is accessible via the Kanzanji Ropeway from Hamanako Pal Pal (浜名湖パルパル) amusement park. Kanzanji Ropeway is one of its kind in Japan, the only ropeway that passes over a lake.
The Otaru Music Box Museum is considered one of largest music box specialty shops with thousands of music boxes on display and for sale. Its main building was built in 1912 but it was opened as a museum in 1989.
At the You-kobo (遊工房), the music box and handicrafts studio, you can make your own music box. Reservation is required.
A small concert played by the Aeolian Pipe Organ is held at the Otaru Music Box Museum Hall Number 2. The museum is open from 9:00am to 6:00pm every day. Admission is free.
The Otaru Music Box Museum can be reached on foot from Minami-Otaru Station (南小樽駅) along the Hakodate Main Line of JR Hokkaido.
The Nasu Orgel Museum displays around 100 music boxes mainly from the collection of Mr. Kiyoshi Sato (佐藤潔). Every hour, a music box is played by the museum staff.
The museum has three exhibition rooms. Exhibition room A showcases the world’s largest cylinder music box that can play 200 songs. Exhibition room B holds the antique music boxes produced in the 1850s and 1920s. Exhibition room C focuses on the smaller music boxes.
At the Nasu Orgel Museum, you also have the option to craft your own music box for a fee of 1,700 yen. Production time varies depending on the design and reservation is not required.
The museum is open from 9:30am to 5:00pm. Admission fee is 1,000 yen for adults and 600 yen for elementary school students.
To reach the museum, take a bus going to Nasu Yumoto Onsen (那須湯本温泉) from Nasushiobara Station (那須塩原駅). It is about a 25-minute walk from Hiroya underground car (広谷地下車).
Immerse yourself in the world of music by visiting these museums! Take home a part of the experience by getting your very own music box. The soothing melody will let you vividly remember your trip.
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