Monday, January 17, 2011

Tourist Haven: Nebuta House Warasse

"How does one measure the success of a museum?"
- Paul Getty

Tourist Traps typicaly exist in areas highly trafficked by visitors with time and money at their disposal. So in January, 2011 when Nebuta House Warasse, Aomori's new Nebuta museum, opened, one could easily give it the aforementioned disctinction. However, despite the arrival of the shinkansen (bullet train), Aomori still remains a city on decline. Besides the first week in August during Nebuta Festival, the mother of all night-time float parades, there's little in the downtown vicinity to stimulate tourists.

Thankfully thanks to the tourist haven of the Nebuta House Warasse, conveniently located footsteps to the north of Aomori Station, people have something besides generic shopping and eating at an izakaya to spend their time and money on.

Nebuta House Warasse
Truth be told, this small museum and hall will never receive recognition from the International Museum Federation (if one existed), but it's the perfect fit for the city of Aomori. The building's red striped exterior adopts a modest yet invoking presence. Inside, designers stuck to a black and white pallete, thus opening up the entryway and interior hallways. As a bonus, while the red strips masked the museum's interior, once inside, one can easily see past the red stripes and peer outside towards the newly opened A-Factory market, the bridge, or the bay.
The Exhibit Midway
The museum itself, open 9am-7pm from May to August and closing at 6pm Stepmeber through April, is a bargain at ¥600 for adults, ¥450 for high school students, and ¥250 for elementary/junior high school students, with slight discounts available to groups of 10 or more.

Nebuta Mask: Inside & Out
The museum exhibits both impressing and a disapointment. The artistic yet technologically advanced design shatteres the stereotype of Aomori as a backwards slumbering farm land. The 'create your own custom Nebuta face' attraction is a can't miss, and since photography is permitted, it'll perfectly fit your facebook profile picture needs.

Crave's Ninja Shadow
The main attraction rests in the Nebuta Hall showcasing a handful of full-sized floats. For Aomori residents who regularly partake in the festival, these floats may be a familar yet un-exciting sight. However, for those visitors who are unable to visit Aomori in August, these floats are pure eye candy.

For those fluent in Japanese, volunteer staff (center) share centuries of stories.

Though with arguably only 3 exhibits, and the hall, Nebuta House Warasse isn't meant to be a day-filler, instead the Nebuta House Warasse is the perfect one to two hour compliment to a quaint afternoon making this museum a success.


Zenichi said...

I love the architecture! It's like the museum is caged and the entrance is pushing its way out to invite everyone inside. The second picture is really amusing as well, reminds me of the tunnels passing through large aquarium tanks.
The museum exhibits both impressing and a disappointment.
what was the disappointment?

craveVSworld said...

Thanks for stopping by.

The quantity of exhibits is lacking. Sure, it's just about the parade. But it wouldn't hurt to throw in more interactive exhibits...including a Wii style Taiko competition, or a flute demonstration. They could even have people pay extra to create their nebuta mask, etc.

It's beautiful for what it is, but to call itself a 'museum' it needs more actual exhibits.