The battleship «Yamato» became a symbol of the power of Japan, which in some 60-70 years turned from a backward feudal country with a fleet of wooden junks into one of the great naval powers. Her epic end on the way to Okinawa in April 1945 also reinforced the myth of the «Yamato», although the giant battleship inflicted negligible losses on the enemy in her last battle. In terms of the number of books, articles, films, manga and songs, dedicated to the battleship «Yamato», no other Japanese ship can be compared.
However, even decades after the end of World War II, the glorification of the Japanese aggression of 1931-1945 is taboo in Japan. Therefore, despite all the popularity of the battleship «Yamato» both in historical science and in popular culture, the Japanese did not dare to create a museum, dedicated to her, for a long time.
Only in the first half of the 1990s, the new mayor of Kure Ogasawara Shinya came up with a proposal to create a museum in the city, dedicated to «Yamato». The battleship was built in the arsenal of the Imperial Japanese Navy, located in Kure. The city authorities rightly believed, that the new museum would attract tourists, who would revive the city's economy. However, the leadership of the Hiroshima Prefecture, which includes Kure, opposed this concept of the museum and refused to create it at the prefecture level. Then Ogasawara announced that the museum would be created at the city level. Since the Kure budget could not cope with such a financial burden on its own, the city authorities launched a large-scale fundraising campaign. As a result, out of a total budget of 65 million US dollars, the city budget covered only about 29 million, and the state, public organizations and individuals gave the rest of the money.
Already in 1999, the exhibition «Battleship «Yamato» was opened in a temporary building in Kure, which became the prototype and advertisement of the future museum. The exhibition was popular, which helped to calm down those worried about anti-war protests in connection with the opening of the new museum. The following year, at the exhibition in Osaka, Kure's stand with the concept of the «Yamato» Museum won first place in a survey of visitors.
At the last moment before the opening, the authorities in Kure become afraid to call their brainchild the «Yamato» Museum. Thus, for reasons of political correctness, it received the official name «Museum of Maritime History and Science of the City of Kure». At the same time, the museum is called the «Yamato» Museum everywhere else, and even the address of its website is written as www.yamato-museum.com. Apparently, for the same reasons of political correctness, the museum opened on April 23, 2005 — 60 years and two weeks after the sinking of the battleship «Yamato» (April 7, 1945).
The new museum was very popular — over 1.6 million people visited it in the first year of its existence. By comparison, in Japan, a local museum considered successful, if it has 100,000 visitors a year. Contrary to the fears of the Kure authorities, there have been no serious protests in Japan or abroad against the opening of the museum. Over time, the number of visitors to the museum decreased, but even today we can safely say, that the «Yamato» Museum is the backbone of the tourism industry in Kure.
The center-piece of the museum's exposition is a huge — 1 to 10 scale — model of the battleship «Yamato». The 26-meter model is made in great detail and makes an unforgettable impression on lovers of maritime history.
The architecture of the building allows the «Yamato» model to be viewed from various angles — from the side, from below and from above.
In a separate room, historical relics are exhibited: the A6M «Zero» carrier-based fighter of the Japanese Navy, the «Kairyu» small kamikaze submarine, a good collection of naval shells and some gun barrels, as well as other military equipment.
Museum also organizes temporary exhibitions, dedicated to the battleship «Yamato», World War II in the Pacific, Imperial Japanese Navy or the city of Kure. Unique exhibits are often exhibited — for example, objects, raised from the sunken «Yamato», or drawings of a battleship, that survived the mass destruction of any information about it by the Japanese after the surrender in 1945.
The actual historical part of the exposition is very modest.-A little about the Imperial Japanese Navy, a little about the city of Kure and the local naval arsenal, a little about the ships, built in Kure. Though one can find some very rare pieces on display, fans of classical museums will probably be disappointed. On the other hand, children (and many adults) should like the large hall, where they simply and clearly tell you about ships, navigation and shipbuilding (this is rarely seen in classical museums). Museum also has good collection of ships’ and aircraft’s scale models.
Several exhibits are located outside the walls of the museum: 41-cm gun and rudder blade of the battleship «Mutsu», a hydrofoil boat and a deep-sea bathyscaphe.
Another — and rather unusual — «exhibit» is the museum pier. It is made in the shape of the right-hand forward half of the «Yamato» bow, so, standing on a special platform, a person can see the contours of the «Yamato» hull on a 1 to 1 scale, as if he/she is looking at the bow of the battleship from the upper level of its bridge.
The «Yamato» Museum is located in the center of Kure city (Hiroshima prefecture) next to the sea ferry terminal, a 5-7 minute walk from the railway station. The train from Hiroshima is the most convenient way for tourists to get to Kure. The museum is open Wednesday to Monday from 9:00 to 18:00, visitor entry until 17:30. Museum is open daily April 29th to May 5th, July 21st to August 31st, and December 29th to January 3rd.
The cost of a regular admission ticket is 500 JPY (c. 5 USD). Note, the ticket allows you not a one-time, but a daily entrance — a visitor can leave the museum and return to it as many times as necessary during the working day. How do the museum make sure, that the same visitor returns to the museum, and not a different person? The answer is simple — it does not. This is Japan, such things simply not done here.
Museum is a barrier-free zone.
Museum web-site: https://yamato-museum.com/
English language guide can be seen here: https://yamato-museum.com/leaflet/guidance-leaflet-english/ If you really want to know more about the museum exposition, audio-guide is a must.