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Efforts of TAKAO 599 MUSEUM 2435-3 Takaomachi, Hachioji, Tokyo
A base for conveying the attraction of Mt. Takao
TAKAO 599 MUSEUM is located at the trailhead of Mt. Takao, a leading sightseeing spot even within Tokyo. This sightseeing facility combines three functions: sightseeing, learning, and interaction. The facility is also home to exhibits of various plants and animals that inhabit Mt. Takao as well as other attractions. The "599" in the museum's name refers to the elevation of Mt. Takao itself, which is 599 meters. Mt. Takao is also highly accessible from central Tokyo, offers an easy way to enjoy mountain climbing, and gives visitors the opportunity to get in touch with nature as it changes with each passing season. The mountain has also achieved the highest possible rating of three stars from Michelin, which rates the world's restaurants and sightseeing spots in its guides, and is visited by mountain climbers from all over the world. By using a cable car to traverse Mt. Takao, even visitors in wheelchairs can climb as far as the vicinity of Yakuoin Temple, but there are a lot of nature trails on the mountain, so there are places where people in wheelchairs, people with leg impairments, and people lacking physical strength can't go. TAKAO 599 MUSEUM conveys the attraction of Mt. Takao through various informational exhibits, videos, and other means in order to give the diverse customers who visit the museum every day the chance to experience Mt. Takao without actually climbing the mountain. Keizo Takimoto, the museum's director and a representative of the managing company Keio Agency, Inc., talked to us about the museum's efforts.
We want various customers to understand the attraction of Mt. Takao
TAKAO 599 MUSEUM was opened by Hachioji in August of 2015 as a public facility. The museum building follows Hachioji ordinances and guidelines aimed at preventing discrimination against people with impairments, so the building is flat and accessible, which makes it possible for various kinds of people to enjoy Takao sightseeing. Within the museum, in addition to a multipurpose restroom, we have set up a nursing room equipped with a milk-preparation water heater for visitors with infants.
The display stands in the museum are set up at a height suitable for viewing by adults, but we have also set up wood stands so that children can enjoy the exhibits as well. However, these stands tend to get in the way of visitors in wheelchairs, so the staff moves them when necessary. In addition, because the exhibits are not visible from the eye level of wheelchair users, we use display-stand mirrors to reflect the exhibits and make viewing by such visitors possible. We also loan out magnifying glasses for visitors who want to take a closer look at exhibits or have trouble seeing the small explanatory text. We also let visitors with visual impairments touch the stuffed flying squirrel we have on display if they contact us in advance. Writing tools are available for people with hearing impairments. We constantly think about what we can do to accommodate elderly people, people with impairments, customers from overseas, and others to ensure that as many people as possible can experience the attraction of Mt. Takao.
Going beyond exhibits that rely on vision alone
I think it is important for anyone to be able to enjoy Mt. Takao equally. When I was thinking about what we could do to make it possible for the visually impaired people to enjoy nature, I visited a universal museum where the exhibits could be enjoyed through touch, but we unfortunately couldn't deal with the costs of this approach. However-in an effort to come up with handmade exhibits that could be enjoyed by our visitors-we employed a trial-and-error approach to set up game-like exhibits that do not rely on vision, such as having visitors hold wood and guess its weight, having them guess the content of a box without looking at it just by touching it, and having them smell exhibits. These exhibits can be enjoyed not only by people with visual impairments but by children and everyone else as well.
Thinking about what we can do inside the museum
The museum is also a learning facility, so many students of support schools, etc. visit it as well. Because this means that we need a place that can be used to calm down in the event of a seizure or panic attack or just to rest, we have visitors use the Public Gallery on the 2nd floor in these cases. In addition, adult visitors in need of diaper changing can use the medical bed set up in our back room. During the autumn season, we have an unimaginable number of museum visitors. In particular, there are a lot of female customers, which results in long lines outside the women's restrooms, so we let them use some of the men's restrooms as well. This is one example of how we come up with ways to use what we have to better serve customers without having to go to the trouble of creating special facilities or anything else.
Our wish for anyone to be able to enjoy Mt. Takao
We want people to be able to enjoy various kinds of fashion in addition to mountain-climbing gear on Mt. Takao, which is the motivation for our Mountain Girls Collection. We set up photos of participating mountain climbers inside our facility and upload Mountain Girls fashion to our public Twitter account. The purpose of these efforts is to provide a reference to customers who are struggling to decide what to wear when climbing and to use fashion as a way to increase mountain-climbing opportunities.
In addition, we want to create opportunities for contact between overseas and Japanese customers, so we have set up a message board on which customers from overseas can write their impressions of Mt. Takao. We also add Japanese translations of the messages to the board in the hope of making this a place for indirect interaction.
As you can see, we pursue an ongoing process of trial and error on a daily basis to help ensure that various customers can enjoy Mt. Takao, so we hope that everyone will come check out the mountain's diverse seasonal faces.
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