For kids eager to learn more about flying and for aviation enthusiasts, this museum is definitely entertaining, especially on inclement weather days. Built on the site of Japan’s first airport, Tokorozawa Aviation Museum is split into a number of indoor sections. In the main multi-level hangar, there are a number of historic planes and helicopters. Some of these exhibits allow walk-throughs and/or a seat in the cockpit. Airplane and helicopter simulators are located on the next level of the museum, and on the third level there’s an ‘antique’ control tower exhibit as well as the history of Japanese aviation and Tokorozawa. Throughout the aging museum, there are also several displays and workshops that revolve around flying and aviation. For young kids, on the main floor they can dress up as commercial airline pilots, and on the third floor they can color pictures of airplanes. There is a large screen movie theater near the entrance, which plays 40-minute films at 10:20am, 12:40pm, 2:20pm and 4:00pm. However, the films are only played in Japanese with no subtitles. Unfortunately, much of the museum is in Japanese, besides the exhibits in the main hall. To the right of the entrance, there’s a little aviation gift shop. It has everything from airplane model kits to various airplane pins. On the other side of the entrance is a restaurant, Ecotoco Farmer’s Café. The prices are reasonable and they serve ramen, curries, salads, sausages and sandwiches, as well as hot and cold drinks. Unfortunately, there were no English menus so you may have to check out what other people are having and discretely point.
Small lockers are available inside the museum’s lobby and opposite the restrooms. They cost ¥100, but this is reimbursed when you remove your items. The Museum is very stroller friendly. There are ramps and an elevator inside the main hall. If you need more information, please refer to the museum’s website http://tam-web.jsf.or.jp/contxe/ or call their office, Phone: 04-2996-2225.
If you’re not interested in seeing the museum, or you’d like to spend more time in the area, you might like to visit the surrounding Tokorozawa Aviation Memorial Park, which has a Japanese garden, tea-ceremony room, sports facilities, flower gardens, and is a good place for a good ole picnic. Maps of the grounds are located around the park for navigation. If you’re still looking for more things to do in this suburb, please visit this website and look for the section headed “Tokorozawa”, http://yokotatravel.com/welcome-fellow-yokotans/north-of-the-base/.
Tokorozawa Aviation Museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 9:30am-5:00pm. CLOSED MONDAYS. However, IF MONDAY is a holiday, then the museum will be open, but the following day it will be closed. The museum is also closed on the third Tuesday in December and over the New Year period, December 29 to January 1. Adults cost ¥510 and elementary to high school-aged students cost ¥200. The movie theater costs ¥610 and ¥260, and a combination ticket that includes entrance to both the museum and the theater, costs ¥820 and ¥260 for each respective age group. Kids under elementary age are free. For groups over 20, discounted tickets are available. Linda Bell, February 2015.
The GPS coordinates for the museum parking lot are 35.798871 139.471403. Depending on traffic, the trip can take 1 hour by car, in good traffic. However, there are a couple of busy railway crossings that can add to your driving time. Parking is free for the first 2 hours and then ¥100 for every hour thereafter. There are four parking areas located around the park with a total of 580 parking spaces so if you have trouble getting parking you may need to get directions to the other parking lots. By train, the closest train station to Tokorozawa Aviation Museum is the Kokukoen Station, on the Seibu-Shinjuku Line. From Fussa Station this takes 45-60 minutes, including two possible train transfers. The museum is an 8-minute walk from the station.