in the book There’s No Such Thing as an Easy Job, employees bunk off in the rice cracker company’s own museum. This got us thinking: which brands actually have their own museums? As we discovered, there are quite a few.
Panasonic Center, Tokyo
Japanese technology company Panasonic has, unsurprisingly, a pretty hi-tech museum. The Panasonic Center’s most recent addition opened in March 2023. The Green Impact Park focuses on the impact that energy use has on the environment. Using a range of interactive exhibits, visitors are encouraged to move around and record their energy use at each point.
The second floor hosts the Eureka space, where children (and adults) can learn about technology, before heading to the third floor for a workshop. Workshops cover a variety of subjects and require advance booking.
Sapporo Beer Museum, Sapporo
Tour the big, beautiful building of Sapporo Beer for free. Learn all about how beer is made and sample some for yourself. The tour heads all around the building, taking in the permanent exhibition, which details the company’s history and how the beer is made. It finishes in one of the beer halls, where visitors can purchase various tasting sets.
Toto Museum, Kyushu
One of the top things tourists comment about when visiting Japan has to be the toilets. There is even an episode in South Park about them. Toto, the inventor of the Japanese toilet, is all too aware of just how popular its toilets are across the globe and has tapped into this with its own museum.
Shaped like a giant toilet, guests can pop inside to learn all about the giant swishy bidet. Marvel at the huge display of toilets, incorporated into an impressive variety of products. And it’s not just toilets, either. There are also basins, taps and much more. For anyone in Tokyo, there is also a Toto Tokyo showroom.
Shiseido Corporate Museum, Shizuoka
The Shiseido Corporate Museum comes with an adjoining art house and vast grounds which contain an assortment of bug-related sculptures.
The museum comes with cases and walls of exhibits, covering the history of Shiseido and its formation. There are makeup artifacts from the ages, ranging from the Edo Period (1603–1867) to modern Japan. The accompanying art house features a variety of art that everyone can enjoy.
Mayo Terrace Mayonnaise Museum, Sengawa
Japan’s best-loved mayonnaise brand has its own exciting museum, housed in one of its old factories in Sengawa. Visitors to the popular museum can admire exhibits inside a giant mayo bottle, watch movies about mayo and see mayonnaise being made in real life.
This is a very aesthetically pleasing museum. With only 15 people allowed in at once, advance booking is advised.
Ajinomoto Science Square, Kawasaki
There’s fun for all the family at Ajinomoto’s Science Square. Big and little kids alike can enjoy all the different experiences on offer. From making the famous Ajinomoto panda salt to making its corn soup, Science Square provides the opportunity to learn how the condiments and sauces you see on a daily basis are made.
In the permanent exhibition area, there is a 360-degree theater (check if this is open before visiting). There’s also a run-down of Ajinomoto’s history from past to present. Listen to the story of each condiment as you venture around the museum.
Hitachi Origin Park, Ibaraki
Opened in 2021, Hitachi Origin Park boasts a wide range of exhibits introducing the company and inspiring visitors to consider their technological future.
The Odaira Memorial Museum for the Hitachi founder leads into the Future Zone, where people can add their thoughts and aspirations for the future onto its floor-to-ceiling curved screen. There is also Sogyo Goya, a recreation of the first Hitachi factory. It’s a place for interacting with Hitachi’s history, featuring machinery that is over 100 years old. Other facilities in the park include the Omika Club and the Omika Golf Club.
Cup Noodles Museum, Yokohama
Nissin’s Cup Noodles Museum is fantastic for people with kids. The interactive museum features a host of original attractions conceived by uber art director, Kashiwa Sato, that pays homage to the ‘inventor’ of cup ramen, Momofuku Ando.
Visitors can enjoy making their own cup noodles, designing packaging and even becoming a noodle themselves in the Cup Noodles Park. The park features noodle-colored climbing nets, ‘to stretch out the noodles,’ a seasoning pit and even a deep fat fryer. Almost every activity in the museum has to be booked in advance, even entry to the park, so make sure to plan ahead before visiting.
Bandai Museum, Tochigi
Renowned Japanese toy maker, Bandai, opened its vast Bandai Museum in 2007. It contains around 35,000 different toys on display. Separated into four main permanent exhibits: World Toy, Edison (named after Thomas Edison), Hobby and Hall, visitors can experience toys as they evolved throughout the world.
Fans of gacha will be delighted at the expansive gacha wall. Those keen on arcade games can play away at the game corner.
Mazda Museum, Hiroshima
The Mazda Museum is essentially a huge showroom for anyone crazy about Mazda cars. Available in English and Japanese, entry is through booked tours only, as visitors are granted access to the factory itself. Places fill up pretty quickly as people clamor for a glimpse of Mazda’s magic. There are 10 showrooms in total. Each tour lasts for 90 minutes, before ending at the museum shop.