Peace Museum of Saitama, Iwadono area of Higashimatsuyama
The Peace Museum of Saitama (埼玉県平和資料館 in Japanese) is set in the lush tranquil hills of Iwadono in Higashimatsuyama. The area of Iwadono is part of the vast 4,638 hectare “Prefectural Hiki Nature Park” . If you’ve ever been to the Saitama Children’s zoo you may have noticed its tower popping out from the abundant shrubbery of the surrounding hills.
Before we visited the first time, many years ago now, I didn’t know what to expect. Several times on the way to the zoo I had noticed the sign for the museum and eventually my curiosity got the better of me. Truth be told, I didn’t expect much as the name doesn’t do much to impress excitement. I was pleasantly surprised.
Update April 2020: the Peace Museum of Saitama is temporarily closed due to the Coronavirus outbreak. Currently, they are looking at reopening on April 21st, but that date may change. Please check the official website for the most up to date information. The adjacent Monomiyama Park is open for business as normal.
The Peace Museum of Saitama
The Peace Museum of Saitama is much more interesting than I had personally anticipated. And architecturally magnificent. For a first time visit you could easily spend an hour exploring the museum and taking in the views from the observation tower. If you have young children there are some activities to enhance the visit for them too. Even better still, it is all free.
Peace Museum Exhibits
You ride a moving walkway through a tunnel to enter the main exhibit hall. There you will find a recreated school house, traditional Japanese room and world war II bunker.
The school house is small, but you can enter it and look around. You get the feel of a pre-war classroom in Japan. They have an educational video you can watch while sitting at a school desk from the 1940s.
Behind this is the bunker, that you can also enter with an information stand beside it. There is a small room behind that with TV screens where you can privately watch, with your own headsets, messages of peace and stories of World War II by survivors. It is exceptionally poignant, you might want to have some tissues if you plan to watch these excerpts. There are other exhibits in the room with actual paraphernalia from world war II.
Activities for kids
In the reception area they have traditional toys and colouring for children to play with. They also have world war II uniforms and period clothes that children can try on. There are stamps in the area too, that can be used for a keepsake or to participate in stamp rallies, which they have frequently. All are free.
They have a great observation tower too, which is 40 metres or 12 stories high. It is 147.5 metres above sea level. The tower not only affords views of Monomiyama Park, Higashimatsuyama and the Hiki District, but you can actually see as far as Mt Asama in Gunma, Mt Tsukuba in Ibaraki and on a fine day you can even catch a glimpse of Tokyo Skytree.
The Monomiyama Park is the park around the peace museum and part of the prefectural Hiki Nature Park. Monomiyama park has seasonal flowers and is renowned for its autumn leaves too.
Prefectural Hiki Nature Park
The Prefectural Hiki Nature Park, or 県立比企丘陵自然公園 in Japanese, comprises areas of Higashimatsuyama, Yoshimi, Ranzan and Hatoyama. Famous landscape scenery within the nature park includes the Ranzan Valley, 100 caves of Yoshimi and Iwamuro Kannon.
There are periodic events at the museum. They also host movies during summer vacation and extended holidays in their movie theater.
The exhibits within convey their lesson in and message of peace, while gently teaching the history of war in Japan. The exhibit hall is not particularly big, so it does not overwhelm.
Peace Museum of Saitama Information
|Address:||241-113 Iwadono, Higashimatsuyama, Saitama 355-0065|
|Hours:||9 am to 4.30 pm Tuesdays to Sundays|
You can get to the museum by bus from Tobu Tojo Line Takasaka Station. Take a bus bound for “Hatoyama new town” (Kawagoe Kanko Bus), get off at “Daito Bunka University bus stop” and walk approx 8 minutes.
By car, the nearest interchange is Nishi Sakado on the Kanetsu expressway. Head west to Nagasaka street and follow the road up until you see the signs for the peace museum on the left hand side.
The car park is shared with one of the car parks for Monomiyama park, which is also an overflow car park for the Saitama Children’s zoo on weekends only.
In the area:
埼玉県の博物館・埼玉県平和資料館・Peace museum near Tokyo