SUBMITTED BY KRIS MURZYN
Just northeast of Hiroshima is the port city of Kure. Kure was the greatest naval port city in the East, as well as the greatest naval arsenal in Japan, which built the world’s greatest battleship, the Yamato. The Kure City Naval History & Science Museum (Battleship Yamato Museum) will lead you through, utilizing free audio guides, the rich history of not only this port city, but the construction of the battleship, how it was lost and who the men were that manned it. In addition there is a 1/10th scale model of the Yamato. When the battleship was 839 ft at the waterline, you can imagine how big this model is. When viewing the artifacts recovered from the battleship, looking at the men’s pictures and listening to the audio guide you feel for the loss of these men and their powerful machine. For those WWII buffs, the Yamato was Japan’s version of Germany’s Bismarck or the Iowa class U.S. battleships.
In addition to the battleship, there is an additional section for other WWII artifacts; to include a Zero and a piloted “kamikaze” torpedo. Upstairs is a section that is fun for adults and kids alike, going through the science behind how ships actually stay afloat and move. They use the hands on approach that makes it a lot of fun.
The Yamato Museum is 500 Yen per person to enter and in my opinion worth every coin. Children 4 and under are free. It is open Wednesday through Monday 0900-1800 and closed on Tuesdays. If you take your time and view everything it will take you an hour plus to see everything. We took our 4 year old and he was constantly asking questions. Plus, we got him his own audio guide (again, free) so he was amused. There is a museum store full of t-shirts, models and knick-knacks.
Directly across the street is the JMSDF museum. It can’t be missed because of the full size submarine that is parked outside on dry land. This museum is 100% free to go through. There is no English translation, so you have to use your imagination on what is being discussed. There are plenty of workers throughout the museum that have basic English vocabulary and are more than willing to answer questions however they can. The bottom floor is dedicated to the search and removal of sea mines that are, even to this day, scattered throughout the world’s oceans. From what I could gather, Japan is a major contributor to the removal of these underwater threats.
You can then continue up to get into the history of Japan’s submarines. You will view scaled down models and full size living quarters that you can climb into. Then the fun part, you go into that submarine that you saw parked outside. The route takes you from the cramped living quarters all the way to the control tower. You can view through the periscope and sit behind the wheel.
These two museums are situated around a 4 story tall You Me Town. If you choose to drive, the best choice of parking is at You Me Town. Parking is not free anywhere, but it is not expensive either.
Your choices of getting there are either by car or by train. Car will cost you 6700 Yen round trip on the Expressway. You do have to jump off the Sanyo and reroute to additional expressways. If you are using Google Maps search for “Yamato Museum Kure”. If you are using Apple Maps search for “You Me Town Kure”. Both will get you where you need to go and is rather direct. We drove and the biggest pain is Route 2 through Otake like always. The total time one way is roughly 1hr 15min.
By train if you leave out of Iwakuni Station your destination will be Kure Station. The round trip fee is 2280 Yen. Kure station is only a 5 min walk from the museums. This choice will take you roughly 2hrs one way.
Additional information can be found at http://www.yamato-museum.com/en/index.html.