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Tokyo: Nostalgic atmosphere comes to life in museum

Photo by Taku Yaginuma / Special to The Yomiuri Shimbun

Metal bento boxes

By Morio Kodama / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writer MATSUDO, Chiba — A three-wheel truck drives along a dusty unpaved road, and a middle-aged deliveryman wearing a tank top rides a bicycle. Crowds of people watch TV in the street, and a red phone rings at a cigarette shop. The Showa no Mori Museum in Matsudo, Chiba Prefecture, is alive with the atmosphere of the bygone Showa era (1926-1989).

Pass through the gate and you’re greeted by famous old cars. Among the popular models are the Ford Thunderbird beloved by U.S. President John F. Kennedy and the 1965 Hino Contessa, as well as three-wheel trucks and the Subaru 360, both of which were widely used by the general public.

Datsuns from the late 1950s to the early 1960s were also used in the movie “Always: Zoku San-chome no Yuhi” (Always: Sunset on Third Street 2) in 2007.

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  • Photo by Taku Yaginuma / Special to The Yomiuri Shimbun

    Old cars, including a Datsun used in a movie, are on display.

  • Photo by Taku Yaginuma / Special to The Yomiuri Shimbun

    Train cars used by Choshi Electric Railway and other companies stand outside.

  • Photo by Taku Yaginuma / Special to The Yomiuri Shimbun

    Paintings on boxes of plastic models by Shigeru Komatsuzaki

Mitsuo Yoshioka, who died suddenly in January this year at the age of 70, collected classic cars as a hobby while running a construction business. In October 2010, the museum opened to display more than 4,000 items accumulated over more than 20 years, including other vehicles and daily items purchased from various places and through online auctions.

The array of train cars conveys his passion well. He was given cars operated by Choshi Electric Railway Co. and those running on the Ryutetsu Nagareyama Line, both in Chiba Prefecture, and those used by the now-defunct Hitachi Electric Railway in Ibaraki Prefecture. The cars were disassembled, transported and assembled again on the premises of the museum, a daunting enterprise that could not be conducted without affection.

The Choshi Electric Railway cars were used on the Ginza Line and then later used by Choshi Electric Railway, after which they were ultimately discarded.

They reminded me of a car that my wife used to drive to work while I was stationed in Ibaraki Prefecture, a vehicle that I got from a senior colleague. Today my sister and her husband drive the car.

There are farm tools, portable gramophones, refrigerators and washing machines from the late 1940s to the early 1960s, and each one conveys the lives of the people in those days. There are many items with family memories and those donated by people putting their affairs in order before passing away.

Curator Kuninaga Nakamura, 70, said: “Our visitors also include younger generations, some with family members. I’d like people to look back on the Showa era, which was a major turning point for our society, from this time of the new Reiwa era.”

Showa no Mori Museum: A special corner displays about 200 items, including original drawings by Shigeru Komatsuzaki (1915-2001), known for his paintings for boxes containing plastic models, and for sci-fi illustrations for boys’ magazines. The museum inherited the items from Showa Roman Kan, which used to be located in Matsudo in the prefecture and was closed due to the Great East Japan Earthquake. The museum is located at 1377 Kamishiki, Matsudo, Chiba Prefecture.

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