← Back to Gokoku Shrines
There are dozens of museums in Japan that have “peace” (heiwa) in their Japanese name. Many are local museums with an anti-war message and focus on the victimhood of a specific group. But as the list of museums below indicates, “peace” is a malleable concept and can be used for museums presenting various viewpoints (see Japan’s Contested War Memories, Chapter 8).
I have divided the museums into three categories: first, those which are more conservative, often commemorating and eulogizing Japanese servicemen; second, those expressing a narrative of regional victimhood, often of air raids (see Japan Air Raids.org) and often with an implied critique of Japanese aggression; and third, those which are more progressive, with an explicitly critical stance regarding Japanese aggression.
I have visited all the museums below apart from those marked with an asterisk *.
For other types of museum which do not have “peace” in their name, see Museums.
- Chiran Peace Museum: Memorial to kamikaze pilots.
- Memorial Museum for Soldiers, Detainees in Siberia, and Postwar Repatriates: A small exhibition in a skyscraper in Shinjuku, Tokyo.
- Osaka International Peace Center (Peace Osaka): Formerly progressive, now a conservative local war museum, which underwent a major “conversion” in 2015. See Philip Seaton, “The nationalist assault on Japan’s local peace museums: The conversion of Peace Osaka”.
- Human Rights and Peace Museum: Regional peace museum in Fukuyama, Hiroshima. Human rights refers to discrimination against local burakumin (outcaste) communities.
- Himeji Peace Museum: Municipal peace museum describing the survival of Himeji castle during air raids.
- Himeyuri Peace Museum: Commemorating the school girls “lily” nursing corps, Okinawa.
- Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum: The A-bomb museum. Japan’s most visited war museum. See Jeff Kingston, “Renewing and Reframing Hiroshima”.
- Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum: Commemorating the Battle of Okinawa.
- Tachiarai Peace Museum: Aviation history in one of the most important air bases. Displays aircraft, including a Zero fighter.
- Grass Roots House Peace Museum: A small exhibition space in Kochi.
- Kawasaki Peace Museum: Local air raids and Japanese aggression.
- Kyoto Museum for World Peace: A critical look at various 20th century wars, particularly the Asia-Pacific War, at Ritsumeikan University.
- Oka Masaharu Memorial Museum: Documenting forced labour in Nagasaki. Includes the most explicit exhibits of Japan’s invasion of Asia I have seen in a Japanese museum.
Forward to Shiba Ryotaro →