Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum

Set in the historic Mitsubishi Ichigokan building, designed by Josiah Conder at the end of the 19th century, this art museum is located 5 minutes walk from the Marunouchi south exit of Tokyo station. There is no permanent exhibition on display, but special exhibitions are held throughout the year, on average three or four exhibitions of two to three months each.

Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum

(from the museum's website)

The <a href="">Museum's English website</a> states that the "Japonisme movement is one of the driving forces of the exhibition activity at our museum" and this is reflected in the special exhibitions on offer. Many explore themes of Japonisme in European art or the connections between Japanese and Western artists and centre around important works by well-known Western painters, especially works borrowed from large art museums in Europe and the US.

Many, if not all, of the special exhibitions at Mitsubishi Ichigokan include English on the object labels as well as on the main interpretive panels. The special exhibition from June 27 - September 6, 2015, "Kyosai: Master Painter and his Student Josiah Conder," also had audio guides available in English.

Admission charges change depending on the exhibition and can be steep, many exhibitions are \1500 or more, but the exhibitions are well laid out and the building provides a beautiful backdrop.

Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum hallway
(from the museum's website)

Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum exhibit space
(from the museum's website)

It is worth noting that the Museum normally sets the temperature of its exhibit space to 21C. While shawls are available for visitors to borrow, the exhibit rooms can feel cold and visitors may want to bring a sweater or shawl of their own, especially in the summer months.

In addition, perhaps due to the Museum's location in the upscale Marunouchi district, while it provides discounts or free admission to elementary school children for many of its exhibitions, the staff are not necessarily friendly to younger visitors or those of any age who make noise.

Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum
(from the museum's website)

Gas Museum

A small company museum (equals free admission) run by Tokyo Gas charting the history and uses of gas for lighting and power. While the company has an English language website, the museum's website appears to be only in Japanese.

The museum is housed in two late Meiji period (early 1900s) buildings which face onto a grassy area. On the Saturday I visited there were stalls set up in the park area with demonstrations and other attractions.

Gas Museum
(image from the Gas Museum website)

The museum is a few minutes walk from the "Gas Museum Entrance" (Gasu myujiamu iriguchi, ガスミュジアム入口) stop of the #21 bus from Musashi-koganei station on the JR Chuo Line, which is roughly 30 minutes by train from Shinjuku station. As such, it isn't the easiest museum to get to. For non-Japanese speakers it isn't the easiest museum to get around either. While the interpretive panels do have English language titles there is no other information available in English or any other language besides Japanese.

As for the exhibits... With a few exceptions of labels at angles that were placed so as to be difficult to read, the objects were well displayed and labeled. Many of the objects were displayed open to the room, and other objects were displayed in cases that fit the historical architecture of the buildings themselves. The main floor of the Gas Lighting Building (my translation of Gasutou-kan, ガス灯館) contains exhibits on the beginnings of human use of gas for lighting, with numerous interesting and beautiful old gas lamps.

(image from the Gas Museum website)

The second floor appears to be a special exhibit space, when I went there was an exhibit of  Meiji period colour woodblock prints.

The Lifestyle Building (my translation of Kurashi-kan, くらし館) includes an activity space for children's programs, a historical development of the use of gas in everyday life as seen through the lives of one family, and displays of Tokyo Gas advertisements over the years (especially amusing was one of a young Charlie Sheen looking serious while cuddling a bunny rabbit!)

(image from the Gas Museum website)

The second floor contains models of plants processing coal and natural gas.

All in all it is a well-done small museum, but likely not worth the hike out unless you have children who want to participate in the range of special programs offered.

Printing Museum

The Printing Museum is a corporate museum run by Toppan Printing, but the exhibits follow the history of printing in general as opposed to presenting the history of Toppan itself. The museum is located in the Toppan Koishikawa Building in Bunkyo-ku, about ten or fifteen minutes walk from the Edogawabashi (Yurakucho line), Iidabashi (JR Sobu, Tozai line, Nanboku line, or Oedo line), or Korakuen (Marunouchi line or Nanboku line) stations. It can be a bit complicated to get to the museum from any of these stations, so it is best to have a map (or a phone with a map app!)

Toppan Koishikawa Building
(taken from the Toppan website)

The museum has a decent English website as well as pamphlets in four languages (Japanese, English, Korean, Chinese). While special exhibits are normally only in Japanese, the permanent exhibition space is either bilingual (Japanese and English) or quadri-lingual. Video footage on the touch panel screens is either translated or provided with subtitles.

the permanent exhibition space
(taken from the museum website)

The permanent exhibition is a mix of original items, reproductions, touch panels with text and video footage, interactive components, and hands-on-activities. The exhibits chart the history of printing around the world, but it also looks at Japanese techniques, particularly an explanation of how woodblock prints were made and examples of early 20th century advertisements.

The museum also offers printing workshops in their "Printing House", which offer a chance to experience printing hands-on and make something to take home. Participation is limited and workshops are not offered every day, so be sure to check ahead if you want to time your visit.

Although the Printing Museum can be difficult to find, those who do will be rewarded with a fun and interesting museum experience. Definitely suitable for older kids and non-museum types too.

ADMT - Museum of Advertising and Marketing

Tucked into a corner of the Caretta Shiodome mall, a few minutes walk from Shimbashi or Shiodome stations, this is a unique museum based on advertising. The museum is run by the Yoshida Hideo Memorial Foundation, which was founded by Dentsu in memory of their fourth president.

(photograph taken from the museum's website)

The museum has an extensive English language website with information on Yoshida Hideo, the museum, how to get there, and the permanent and special exhibitions, but unfortunately only limited English in the exhibits.

The museum is, however, free and while the permanent exhibit space is rather small, there is normally one or two temporary exhibitions on display as well. Technology is used throughout the permanent exhibition - touch screens, LED displays, video booths, and consoles with video libraries all add to the exhibits. The videos of radio and tv commercials, including the international Clio awards, are well worth checking out and visitors can easily spend a fun afternoon watching weird and wonderful commercials from around the world.