Renovated Tora-san museum offers nostalgic trip

Renovated Tora-san museum offers nostalgic trip
PHOTO: The Japan News/ANN

The Katsushika Shibamata Tora-san Museum reopened on Dec. 19 after renovation under the theme of the movie series "Otoko wa Tsurai yo" (It's Tough Being a Man), taking visitors on a nostalgic trip back to station buildings and trains where the protagonist Tora-san had various encounters during his travels.

Since opening in 1997 in Tokyo's Katsushika Ward, the museum has gone through six renovations and set up three new sections. One of them, called "station of homecoming and starting on a journey," features a set depicting what Keisei Shibamata Station looked like around 1969 when the first instalment of the Tora-san series was released.

The station set features a message board hanging on the wall with Tora-san's handwriting that reads, "Sakura [Tora-san's sister], live happily! - Tora," as well as a shelf that was actually used in a stationmaster's office for tickets at the time on the railway line.

The museum also has a section replicating a train from back then, where visitors can check out a monitor set up on the window of an old-school green box seat on the train. Visitors can travel back in time and go on a journey with Tora-san by watching three video compilations of the popular character's adventures.

A reopening ceremony held on the day was attended by Yoji Yamada, director of the Tora-san series, and actress Keiko Takeshita, who played Tora-san's love interest Madonna in three of the series' installments.

"It's been almost 20 years since the Tora-san series ended," Yamada said. "Traveling by train has changed quite a bit, but I want visitors to look back on the old days at this museum, to a time when people connected with each other through travel."

Looking at the museum's displays, Takeshita reflected on those days with Tora-san.

"Mr. Kiyoshi Atsumi [who played Tora-san] often talked about all kinds of things between takes during shooting. We had fun together," Takeshita said. "When I think about those times now, it all feels like a dream."

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