MIYAKO, Iwate Prefecture--A fitting venue, an old school here built more than 70 years ago, now houses a popular local museum that recreates a shopping street from the Showa Era (1926-1989), when the facility itself was in its heyday.
Masakatsu Terui, 62, opened the "Showa no Gakko" (Showa School) museum in 2008, using the old school building in the city's Hakoishi district. It has on display a collection of about 50,000 items, recreating an entire shopping street from bygone days.
The museum houses more than 20 "stores" lined up in former classrooms.
Notebooks, pencils and insect-collecting kits fill the store shelves of a stationery shop, while a toy store offers a collection of plastic models and model planes.
A candy shop displays bottles of "ramune" lemon squash soda. Weekly magazines whose covers feature the smiling face of actress Sayuri Yoshinaga and other young movie stars at the time are placed at the storefront of a bookstore.
The whole place looks like a movie set out of 1955, for young and old alike to enjoy. The museum attracted about 10,000 visitors last year.
A native of Hanamaki, also in the prefecture, Terui calls himself the "principal" of the museum.
He wanted to encourage baby boomers born soon after the end of World War II like himself. He came up with an idea to faithfully recreate a shopping street from the heyday of the Showa Era.
Terui visited antique dealers and other places across the Tohoku region to collect the items.
He now lives in a former housing facility for teachers still standing on the premise.
The curator also lends out his articles for real shopping streets and events intended to promote local economies.
"It will be better to have a town which is fun to see and walk around rather than to spend money on colorfully painted pavements or shopping arcades," Terui said.
He said he intends to offer a helping hand to shopping streets in the disaster-stricken areas from the Great East Japan Earthquake.
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