This gorgeous museum is attached to Toyo Bunko, which is Japan's largest Asian Studies library with holdings of more than one million books. A museum devoted entirely to books might sound rather dry, but the exhibits here do a decent job exploring history through woodblock prints, drawings, maps and other materials from old books, accompanied by detailed explanations in both Japanese and English.
There are four main areas of interest in this compact museum, starting with the Morrison Library. This is a huge room with multiple levels of floor-to-ceiling bookcases and illuminated display cases showing off some of its treasures. Next door is a room full of Very Important Books, including historical scrolls and a number of designated national treasures and important cultural properties.
Following that is a dramatically lit corridor with a few more displays, leading to the special exhibit space at the heart of the museum. Past shows have covered a wide range of historical themes, and generally run for four months each. An exhibition of old Japanese maps is scheduled to run from September 15, 2018 to January 14, 2019.
A few more displays can be found in the main hall, and it's worth taking a relaxed stroll along the beautiful tree-lined promenade leading from the main building to the overpriced museum cafe out back.
While the museum itself isn't very large, the Marco Polo museum gift shop almost makes up for it with its surprisingly diverse offerings. There are reproductions of ukiyoe prints, ceramic tableware, neckties, scarves, and tote bags in addition to the more typical postcards and books. You'll also find tea and cookies (several varieties of each), coconut chips and Hawaiian caramel corn, and various curries and candies from Koiwai Farms dairy, who run the museum cafe.
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