Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Peko-chan Museum: Need I Say More?

Shinagawa-san flagged me down as I was leaving a recent JAW function. "Do you know Ginza?" I nodded. "There is a Peko-chan Museum for her 60th anniversary. But it will close in two more weeks so you must hurry!"  That evening the address of the museum arrived in my in-box. 

And that is how it came to pass that the Ancient Mariner and I set off for Tokyo on a balmy autumn Saturday.

"Maybe I should have thought to bring the address of the museum," one of us inadvertently blurted out just after nodding pleasantly to the security guard at the Navy base exit.

"What? You didn't bring the address?!? You know I hate to wander aimlessly!"

"Yes, but we won't be 'wandering aimlessly'. We have a goal. The Peko-chan Museum is our goal.  Therefore, the word 'aimlessly' does not apply in this case."

By the time we reached Tokyo he had sweetened up and was speaking to me again. We made a beeline to the Fujiya Ginza Shop where I hoped to obtain directions to the museum. But I was reluctant to approach a salesclerk empty-handed and, gosh, the shelves were overflowing with all sorts of Peko-chan 60th Anniversary products. "Merry Christmas! Go for it," directed Santa Claus.

The museum was only three blocks from the shop. The salesclerk handed us a map along with an enormous bag filled with about fifty pounds of Peko-chan 60th Anniversary products. Santa sighed with relief when he got his hands on that map.

(I did not say, "I told you the word 'aimlessly' does not apply in this case." Some things just go without saying, especially when someone is lugging about fifty pounds of stuff you hope will appear under the tree tagged with your name come Christmas morning.)
The museum was free and the line was short when we arrived. An elevator whisked us to the gallery on the eighth floor and then we walked down to the children's play area on the seventh floor and, finally, the gift shop on the sixth floor.

Peko-chan had enormous ears and a papier-mache head when she was born in 1950.  That was our first surprise.

The 2010 Peko-chan (right) is the result of a team effort between Fujiya, the Takashimaya department store, and a school for budding fashion designers.

Peko and Poko resemble the Campbell Soup Kids in this picture (above) but it was the newspaper hat that caught my eye. Thanks to Curious George, my children and I spent a lot of time folding newspapers into hats in the late 1980s.

"Apparently you don't own the world's largest collection of Peko-chan stuff after all," remarked Santa as he deftly shifted the 50-pound bag to his left hand and his 35-pound camera to his right.

"Well, I definitely don't have one of those nifty jewelry boxes. We're going to have to hit a lot more shrine sales, Santa."

"And office products!" she squealed greedily.

"Do Japanese DVDs work in American DVD players?"

"Check out Sporty Kathy and Sport Deuce - um, I mean Peko and Poko."
"This little book makes me see red!"

"I see red, too. That's the background color, honey." Eye roll.

"Not just that. To think we were exporting Popeye and Olive Oyl to the delight of Japanese children in the late 1950s but not importing Peko-chan during my formative years irks me."

"Look on the bright side (for once). Now you will finally sign up for the University of Maryland Japanese class just so you can read this book."

"If I can get my hands on one of these ties, would you wear it?"

"Have I mentioned my interest in philately lately?"
"Mon Dieu!  There was a French Peko!  What a wuss.  I want to pull her hair."

We exited the gallery after taking about a hundred more pictures and shaking the hand of the talking Peko-chan.

In the children's playroom we spotted a Peko-chan made from Post-It Notes.

We added our sentiments above her right (your left) ear.

Santa reprised his "Merry Christmas! Go for it!" routine in the gift shop. He's really a jolly good fellow when he has a map in his pocket.


  1. Wow! Maps work? Mmm, maybe I need to get some maps around here for inspiration! Loved it :-)

  2. Maps work if one remembers to find the compass. We have spent hours wandering aimlessly due to mistakenly assuming North was at the top of a given map.



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