Tokorozawa aviation museum (所沢航空発祥記念館 in Japanese) is in one corner of the engaging Tokorozawa Aviation Memorial Park. It is very easy to spot thanks to the hangar shaped design of the building and the airplane out front.
Update April 2020: the Tokorozawa Aviation Museum is temporarily closed due to the Coronavirus outbreak. They have not released a date for reopening. Please check the official website for the most up-to-date information.
Tokorozawa Aviation Museum 2020
The museum like the area around it has a fascinating history, once the center of Japanese aviation and the first airfield in Japan. You can read more about this history on Japan Visitor, but this article concentrates on what you can do in the museum especially with young children.
The museum was revamped in recent years, certainly since our first visit in 2012. It is now more child friendly and a lot more interactive. Here are some of the things you can enjoy at Tokorozawa Aviation Museum with children:
Tokorozawa Aviation Museum with children
Things for kids to do:
- Space Walker for children over 125 cms
- Play area
- Pilot and air steward/ess costumes
- Plane you can sit in and operate
- Various interactive / technological / audio visual / educational exhibits
My older two children really enjoyed the space walker, but my younger two were too small unfortunately to use it. You have to be at least 125 cm to use the popular attraction that allows you “feel gravity”. (The other restriction is that you have to be under 90 kilos to use it).
There are three settings in which you can try walking in space. One is on the moon and might be why this activity is most often referred to as the moon walker. Another is over earth in the “Fly Sky High” course. And the third is planet exploration to “Various Planets”.
The renovated area of the first floor includes a workshop. There is no natural light in the area, but they have it lit up brilliantly and it is an open and inviting space. It typically hosts crafting workshops for children.
You normally don’t have to book in advance, but you do need to add your name to a list. We did this minutes before the workshop began, but I think on a busy day you would need to put your name on the list as soon as possible.
There is a small play area for children with blocks, teddies, coloring and some toys in the center of the open area on the first floor. It is best suited to children of preschool age or younger.
Dress up in air staff costumes
Beside the kids space they have a rail of pilot and air stewards happis for kids (and adults) to try on. There is a plane right beside the area that you can sit in the cockpit:
Board a plane and sit in the cockpit
It is only a small plane, but you can mess around with the gears and controls. The yokes move and you can see the air flaps rise and fall as you maneuver the yokes. Up on the second floor you can have an even more realistic experience with the simulators.
Despite the fact that on our last visit there were less than 50 people in the museum, we could not get a go at the simulators! The queue was really long and we decided not to wait. It gives us a reason to go back again. There are both plane and helicopter simulators.
There are various exhibits on all floors of the museum. From visual exhibits of real life airplanes and helicopters to futuristic interactive exhibits with projection mapping.
Tokorozawa Aviation Museum Information
English language guide
Some of the exhibits have keywords in English, but generally it is Japanese language only. However, you can download an English Audio Guide on your phone. The museum has wifi.
Tuesday to Sunday, closed Monday, from 9.30 am to 5 pm with last entry to the museum at 4.30 pm. On the occasion when Monday is a public holiday the museum will open and close on the Tuesday instead. Closed December 29th to January 1st for New Years. Closed on the third Tuesday of December.
510 yen per adult. If you want to get a combination ticket for the theater next door it is only 110 yen extra: 620 yen. Children of school going age cost 100 yen and 260 yen for the theater pack. Children under 6 years of age are allowed to enter for free. People with a disability handbook also receive free entry – one person per guidebook.
The Seibu Shinjuku line’s Kuukou Park station 「空港公園」・「くうこうこうえん」is right beside the number 5 entrance / exit to the park on the west side. Easily commutable from Tokyo.
The park is approximately 6 kilometers from the Tokorozawa Interchange of the Kanetsu expressway along route 463, easily commutable from Tokyo.
There is parking on the North, South and East sides of the park. The museum has its own parking lot, right beside the museum and at entrance number 7 to the park.
On the weekends the car parks can become very busy and people queue for a spot. There are alternatives with some reasonably priced coin parking lots nearby, but the parking at the aviation park is probably worth the wait as it is only 200 yen.
埼玉県の博物館・Good museums / Aviation museums near Tokyo