Warabekan Toy & Children's Songs Museum 鳥取童謡・おもちゃ館 わらべ館
Warabekan is a museum for children of all ages. There are quite a few toy museums scattered across Japan, and this is quite a good one, but also offers something extra, a focus upon children's songs. Warabekan is housed in what used to be the Prefectural Library in Tottori city, though the building has been refurbished and expanded with some modern extensions.
Spread over three floors, two devoted to toys and games, but the first floor is devoted to songs. You can hear examples of nursery rhymes, school songs, play songs etc, and there is a noisy exhibit featuring theme songs from Japanese children's TV shows.
The emphasis is on the twentieth century though some of the songs do date back to earlier times. Nostalgia is obviously a large part of the attraction, and one of the most popular exhibits for Japanese visitors is a replica of an old school classroom. There is also a room devoted to musicians and composers from Tottori Prefecture, though there is no English information, so perhaps not so interesting.
The top two floors are devoted to toys across a wide range of categories, though once again the second half of the twentieth century is heavily represented. There are dolls, trains, animals, board games, card games, masks etc and areas where toys can be played with including kendama.
Karakuri, the mechanical toys that date back to the Edo Period are well represented and there are several areas where you can explore how the toys work and even try your hand at making some toys.
The whole place is very kid-friendly and would obviously be a place to visit if you have kids with you, and especially on a rainy day, but it is also fascinating for adults.
Kagome is a very famous children's song believed to date from the Meiji Period. The words vary and the meaning is not clear. The game is played with one child "it", in the center of the circle wearing a blindfold or with eyes closed. The singing children circle around and when the song stops the child in the middle must guess who is behind them.
Kids' TV - a noisy selection of themes and songs from Japanese children's TV programs.
Temari - Anta Gata Doko Sa is a children's rhyme sung while bouncing a ball, in earlier times a Temari. There are different versions of the words found in different areas of Japan and is believed to date from the late Edo/ early Meiji Period. It is believed to have originated in Kyushu, and is sometimes known as Higo Temari Uta.
Ichikake - Ichikake Nikake Te, a traditional hand game song.
Warabekan (in Japanese & English)
Tottori-shi, Tottori 680-0022
Tel: 0857 22 7070
Open 9am to 5pm. Closed on the 3rd Wednesday each month and over New Year (December 29-January 1). Open every day in August.
Entry is 500 yen for adults, free for kids under 18. Half-price for foreign visitors upon presenting passports.Warabekan is centrally located just over 1 kilometer from Tottori Station. Numerous buses stop in front of the museum including the Shinai-Marwari loop bus, the Loop Kirinjishi bus and the 100 yen Kururi bus.
If you are staying in Tottori you have a fairly wide variety of hotels and ryokan to choose from. Some recommended places are the 4-star Misasa Royal Hotel with an open-air hot-spring bath (rotemburo) and aromatherapy massages, the Japanese style Hannaya Bekkan with tatami floors and futon bedding and the business style Tottori Washington Hotel Plaza. Also near Tottori Station is the budget Y Pub & Hostel Tottori.
See a listing of hotels in Tottori.