In the middle of the busy business district of Nihonbashi in Chūō City, Tokyo, is a small museum hidden on the fifth floor above Taimeiken, famous restaurant opened in 1931. Only a small metal sign at the building’s entrance indicates its existence. Stumbling across the tiny museum reveals a trove of thousands of unique kites.
The Museum of Kites is packed full of kites from the personal collection of one man. Shingo Modegi founded the Japan Kite Association and also happens to be the former owner of the restaurant that takes up the lower floors of the building. Modegi also personally participated in setting the record for the largest kite in the world in 2006.
The museum space itself is rather cluttered, but despite its size, the collection holds upwards of 3,000 items. You’ll find anything from tiny box kites to giant replicas of planes and birds, making this cramped exhibit look like a hidden attic full of treasures.
The kites themselves come in all shapes, sizes, and materials from traditional to modern and paper to nylon. Some hang from the ceilings, while others lean against the walls. Some kites even date from Japan’s Edo period, which lasted from 1603 to 1868. Some are of foreign origin, including Chinese, Indonesian, Indian, French and American.
If, after seeing this impressive collection, you feel inspired to make a kite of your own, the museum is happy to oblige, as it offers building materials like bamboo, fabrics, and cords in its gift shop as well as fully-built kites and souvenirs.
Know Before You Go
The Taimeiken building within one minute's walk from Nihombashi Station. To visit the museum, take the elevator on the left hand and go up to the fifth floor. It's open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except on Sunday, and the admission is 220 yen for adults.