Friday, December 11, 2009

Japan Football Museum

In 2002, Japan hosted the FIFA World Cup soccer tournament. The Japan Football Museum was built and opened in 2003 to commemorate the event, and then renovated in 2006 to act as a general soccer museum. According to the English brochure, the museum reached its 250,000th visitor in January, 2009.

The space open to visitors is located on the first floor, and basements B1 and B2. Floors 1 and B1 are free, and B2 costs 500 yen for adults (approx. $5.75 USD) to view the special exhibits. Floor 1 contains displays of pins, figures and stamps related to the soccer team, plus walls of photos and jerseys, and a large theater space showing game highlights.

B1 has the goods shop, a space where you can sit and relax or play foosball, and the Hall of Fame. There's also the security gate leading to the stairs to B2. And B2 has the History of Japanese soccer exhibit, which is broken up into zones. As examples, zone 3 is labeled the "training site", zone 4 is "locker room" and zone 9 has the trophy case. Zone 11 contains the special exhibits space, which changes periodically. When I was there, one of the goods shop employees, an older guy, challenged an American in his twenties to a game of foosball. The American had his butt handed to him.

(And yes, it was raining that day.)

If you look closely at the photo pose board, you may notice that both crows have 3 legs. This didn't register for me until I read the information note in the brochure some time later. If you're not a big soccer fan, you may have never seen the Japan Football Association (JFA) mascot, or the Japan team logo before. If you have, then I'm explaining the obvious here). Turns out that the three legged crow was an old symbol used in China, Korea and Japan, representing the three stages of the sun - dawn, noon and dusk. In Japan, it shows up as the "yatagarasu" (8-span crow), which doesn't necessarily have 3 legs, but the version in the JFA logo does. You can read more about this at the wiki page.

(The text in Japanese says "Soccer Street")

Getting to the JFA museum is fairly straightforward, but it helps to have a good map at hand. Using Shinjuku as a starting point, take the Chuu-ou rapid express train to Ochanomizu. Exit from the west end of the platform, and at the street, take a right to the medical university. Cross the street to get to the university parking entrance and turn left. Follow the university building west until you get to the first intersection and then turn right. Go north 2 long blocks, past the university, and you'll see the museum on your left.

When you're done, head back south to the first street light, turn left, and take the street running diagonally to the left (this is Kuramaebashi Dori). About halfway down the block on the right is the Origami Kaikan (Origami Center). If you keep walking, heading roughly east, you'll get to the northwest edge of Akihabara in about 5-7 minutes.

(Hall of Fame)

Instead, if you head west from the JFA museum, you'll get to Tokyo Dome. It's easy to tell that you're getting close when you see the roller coaster and ferris wheel. Conversely, if you return to Ochanomizu station, you can take the Chuu-ou or Sobu lines in to Tokyo station, and then it's just one short stop on the Yamanote line south to get to Yurakucho station, right in front of Ginza (less than 10 minutes by train from Ochanomizu).

(Front lobby)

(A folding postcard (turns into a paper airplane) featuring the new Astro Boy movie design, advertising the bid for a future world cup.)

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