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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. It also exhibits various plants and animals that inhabit in 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. Not only is Mt. Takao highly accessible from central Tokyo, but it is also easy to climb, and gives visitors the opportunity to get in touch with nature in all seasons. The mountain has also achieved the highest rating of three stars from Michelin which rates the world's restaurants and sightseeing spots in its guides, and is visited by hikers from all over the world. By using a cable car to traverse Mt. Takao, even visitors in wheelchairs can reach Yakuoin Temple. Yet, there are a lot of natural trails on the mountain, so there are places where people in wheelchairs, people with leg impairments, or people lacking physical strength cannot access. TAKAO 599 MUSEUM conveys the attraction of Mt. Takao through various informational exhibits and videos. It is visited by a diversity of customers every day and they can experience Mt. Takao without climbing the mountain. Yohei Horita, the museum's director from the managing company Keio Agency, Inc., told us the museum's efforts.

Photo / Taiji Yamazaki

Telling diversified customers the attraction of Mt. Takao

TAKAO 599 MUSEUM was opened in August of 2015 as a public facility of Hachioji City. The museum building follows Hachioji’s ordinances and guidelines which prevent discrimination against people with impairments, so the building is flat and accessible, which makes it possible for various kinds of people to enjoy sightseeing at Takao. Within the museum, besides a multipurpose restroom, there is 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 adults, but there are also wood stands for children to enjoy as well. However, these stands often get in the way of visitors in wheelchairs, so the staff will move them when necessary. In addition, because the exhibits are not visible from the eye level of wheelchair users, mirrors are provided to reflect the exhibits and make them visible. We also lend magnifying glasses to visitors who want to take a closer look at the exhibits or have trouble seeing small texts. For visitors with visual impairments, they can touch the stuffed flying squirrel display if they contact us in advance. Writing tools are available for people with hearing impairments. We constantly think and make efforts to accommodate elderly people, people with impairments, customers from overseas, etc. to ensure that many people can experience the attraction of Mt. Takao.

Photo / Taiji Yamazaki

Going beyond exhibits relied on sight

I think it is important for everyone 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 the cost will be too high. Yet, I came up with using handmade exhibits which were still enjoyable. For example, we let people to touch nuts like acorn freely, though it was closed due to Covid. These exhibition ways 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 a learning facility so many students from support schools come. In case of a seizure or panic attack, a place for calming down or rest is needed, so we will offer the Public Gallery on the 2nd floor. In addition, adult visitors in need of diaper changing can use the medical bed in our backyard. During the autumn season, there was an unimaginable number of museum visitors. There were especially a lot of female customers, which created long lines outside the women's restrooms, so we let them use some of the men's restrooms. This is one example of how we figure out solutions from our existing resources, instead of building special facilities or things.

Photo / Taiji Yamazaki

Our wish for everyone to enjoy Mt. Takao

Mt Takao is not a high mountain, so a wide generation can enjoy hiking. Also, it is a treasure chest of animals and plants. In order to promote the historical mountain which is full of nature, we periodically hold special exhibitions about nature and history. The exhibitions we did were about plants (violet, seeds, etc.), mammals, butterflies, birds, etc. In 2020, “Reki-Manzan Takaosan – The Story of Mulberry city Woven by Locals’ Prayers -” which includes 29 cultural properties in Hachioji was recognized as the first “Japan heritage” in Tokyo so we did a related exhibition. Besides nature or animals, I hope the history and culture will also be a reason to hike.
In addition, we wanted to create opportunities for contacts between overseas and Japanese customers, so we set up a message board for overseas customers to write their impressions of Mt. Takao. We translated the messages into Japanese in the hope of creating indirect interactions. Unfortunately, it is closed now due to Covid. As we go through trial and error daily in order to satisfy different kinds of customers, please come and enjoy the different looks of Mt Takao in the four seasons.

Photo / Taiji Yamazaki

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