Small-scale museums on themes related to popular music in Japan．
The 7th China-Japan-Korea joint conference on Geography:
Changchun, PRC, 3-6 August, 2012.
Small-scale museums on themes related to popular music in Japan
Hrumichi YAMADA, Professor, Tokyo Keizai University
Tokyo Keizai University, 185-8502, Japan
Museums on themes related to popular music in the United States are typically categorized into three groups based on their scale and the character of their location (Yamada 2011, 2012). In Japan, on the other hand, there are not so many museums on such themes, and they are generally small in scale.
Typically, small-scale museums on popular music in the U.S. include are located in former recording studios or houses previously occupied by famous popular musicians. A couple of them have either been re-built on the original site or relocated elsewhere, but the majority of these museums retain their authenticity by being in the original buildings and locations. However, there are no Japanese museums in former recording studios, and only two former residences – namely the birthplace of the poet/lyricist Hakushu Kitahara (1885-1942), and the teenage home of the composer Rentaro Taki (1879-1903) – currently house museums devoted to their former occupants. Consequently, the locations of other small-scale museums commemorating popular music figures in Japan generally lack authenticity and legitimacy.
Although many of these small museums in Japan are situated in the commemorated person’s hometown, in fact they are not housed in authentic or original locations. Instead, they are often found in new, purpose-made buildings, or in buildings that are genuinely old, but that have little or no relation to the musicians or their music. For example, the museums devoted to the singers Utako Matsushima (1905-1996) and Hideo Murata (1929-2002) are housed in former bank buildings in their respective hometowns. More specifically, Matsushima’s museum is in downtown Yanai City, Yamaguchi Prefecture, while her actual birthplace was Hizumi-son Village, an independent municipality up in the hills several kilometers away from the downtown area. Hizumi-son later merged with Yanai City in 1952.
In fact, some museums are built in cities/towns with which the person commemorated had hardly any connection at all. For example, the museum devoted to the Dark Ducks – a Japanese vocal group that was prominent from the 1950s to the 1980s – is located in Tatebayashi City, Gunma Prefecture even though the group had no particular relation with the city before this museum was built. It was located there mainly because a local fan of the group acquired the land and donated it to the museum for this purpose. Another example is the museum devoted to the poet and lyricist Hachiro Sato (1903-1973) in Kitakami City, Iwate Prefecture, with which the poet had no particular connection. The museum is located right next to a public garden, which is famous for its cherry blossoms and autumn leaves. The museum is visited by many tourists during these seasons.
At small-scale museums in the U.S., guided tours of the exhibitions are common, and the role of in-house guides as storytellers is crucial. However, small-scale museums in Japan provide no such guides. The absence of such guides decreases the operating expenses of these museums, but it also greatly diminishes the value of their exhibitions for visitors.