National Showa Memorial Museum (Showakan), Tokyo
Located in the Chiyoda district of Tokyo, the National Showa Museum opened in 1999 after much lobbying from the Japan War-Bereaved Families Association. Managed by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, the museum explores life at home in Japan during World War II – an era known in the Japanese calendar as Showa.
With an emphasis on remembering for future generations, the museum highlights the daily struggles and overall bereavement local Japanese citizens experienced during wartime and the immediate period following. Spread over seven floors, the museum displays a collection of over 8,000 objects and historical documents, including clothes, maps, letters and everyday utensils.
Exhibits focus on themes such as hardships of school children and students, living under a militarist regime, preparing for air raids, bereft families and rebuilding from the ruins as a way to draw attention to the fact that all parts of society are effected by war, not just those on the frontline. The use of photographs, audio-visual recordings, oral testimonies and news films further illustrates the sufferings and restricted lifestyles ordinary families endured during and after the war.
Similar to the nearby Shokei-kan Museum for Wounded Soldiers, the Showakan Museum also has a library and audio-visual room. Visitors are encouraged to search through the literary and digital collection to further learn about the everyday lives of Japanese citizens and the measures they put in place to cope with disaster.