Despite having worked in close proximity to this place for about six years I had never even heard of this place until earlier this year when I was talking to a student about the Chikatetsu Subway Museum in Kasai. I casually asked him if there were any other transportation museums in and around Tokyo and what I got in response were a few other places. Of course the Railway Museum in Omiya was mentioned as was this aviation museum…..but given the title of this post I guess that is “plane” to see!!
As soon as you leave the leave the station there is an ANA plane on display (below).
Turn right at the ANA plane and head down the cobbled path for a bit before taking a left turn where you will see the museum appear on the left and a plane outside (below) tells you that you have found the place.
Entrance to the museum is 510 yen and from there you are straight into the real meat and bones of the place. Sure, there are some other parts of interest but it’s the exhibits in the ‘Runway & Apron’ section which the majority of the visitors want to see.
The museum is divided into sections and it was pretty cool to be able to get up close with such transportation and see the engines (displayed on their own separated from the aircrafts) as we rarely spend too much time outside of a plane beyond the occasional walk from the airport shuttle bus to the steps ascending up to the aircraft. Other than at the Yushukan Museum (part of the Yasukuni Shrine complex) I can’t think of any other places where one can see such things.
My main interest though was the helicopters (below), such as the Skiorsky H-19 and the Vertol V-44, and it is possible to board them along with an airplane or two.
Upstairs towards the back are the sections known as ‘The Sky’ and ‘Control Tower’. The former allows you to experience the feeling of flying via a simulator (below) using interactive images. Unfortunately that was closed during the time I was at the museum! Likewise for the gravity space walker in another part of the building. Real air control units explain the functions of air traffic control and there are a few buttons and knobs to play with in this section.
The main reason for wanting to go upstairs for many is to just have the chance to view some of the planes and helicopters (below) hanging from the ceiling.
Tokorozawa is the birthplace of aviation in Japan having established the first airfield in 1911 and it greatly contributed to the development of Japan’s aviation technologies. In 1993, the Tokorozawa Aviation Museum opened and the old airfield site has been converted to the Tokorozawa Aviation Park of which the museum is a symbolic landmark. There is a section of the museum devoted to this including “invaluable materials” such as old-time flying suits.
The Tokorozawa Aviation Museum is about 8 minutes walk from the east exit of Koku-Koen station on the Seibu Shinjuku Line. It’s open from 9:30 am – 5pm and is closed on Mondays.