Tin toys (Photo: Shinya Ota)

Yokohama Museum of Tin Toys Museum, Yamate

House of antique tin toys

Tin toys (Photo: Shinya Ota)
Shinya Ota   - 2 min read

On a quiet side road from Yamate street at the corner of Yokohama Christ Church, there is a wonderful museum of tin toys. If you see the building from the entrance, it looks like just an ordinary toy shop full of tin toys and celluloid. Going further inside, you will find some 3,000 tin toys displayed. It is a museum dedicated to antique tin toys. The museum section of the floor is crowded with dolls, cars, ships, trains and aircraft, all made from tin plate. They were made from the 1890s through the 1960s. At the museum the collections are displayed roughly by era such as the 1890s, before/after World Wide War II, the 1950, etc. Each of them represents the time it was produced. A Mickey Mouse is from when it appeared as a cartoon character for first time in the world.

After replacing Germany in the 1910s, Japan had been the largest exporter of tin toys and continued to make them until the 1960s. Most of them were exported to Europe and North America. It might have been a Japanese-made one if you played with a tin toy back then. I do remember playing with tin toys when I was a child. But they began to be replaced by plastic toys gradually in the 1970s. These tin toys in the museum were collected by Mr.Teruhisa Kitahara, who really loves toys and could not bear them being thrown away just because they were obsolete. He is known as a collector of antique toys and often appears on TV programs on antiques.

A white English sheep dog, Robby, welcomes you in the museum. He is a gentle dog and always lying on the floor or sometimes he plays in the backyard.

In the store section, there are tin toys and other products which remind us of the good old days of the Showa era (1926-1989). Now there is only one tin toys craft man in Japan. Tin toys are really an endangered species.

I am not sure the staff speaks English. They are very friendly and I am sure they will try and help you in a friendly manner.

Shinya Ota

Shinya Ota @shinya.ota

Shinya Ota is a Registered National tourist English guide.  Native of Yokohama living here more than 50 years. He loves Yokohama and enjoys walking through Yokohama harbor area on weekends.