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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
A tour through the history of (mostly Japanese) horology.

A mandatory part of my holiday to Japan was a visit and tour of the Seiko Museum in Tokyo. This small museum gives a comprehensive history of not only Seiko, but time measurement devices in general. It was a fascinating visit that was all to brief. I thought the best way to go about this was to tell you about the place and my experience of visiting it. Following that, I would post the photos I took with some accompanying comments and observations.

A few things to note:
· Taking pictures was difficult given the lighting conditions and the way the watches were displayed. While there I realized that I was spending a lot of time trying to take good photos, and not much time actually looking at and enjoying the exhibits. So eventually I took photos less, and looked more. Some of the photos are slightly out of focus and/or have light reflections on them. I apologise for the lack of good quality photos of watches. I did my best and hopefully this will inspire you to go yourself.
· I want to give a sense of the surrounds of the Museum, so there are some pics of streets and items of interest in the area.
· For better quality pictures and accurate descriptions, it may be better to go to the Museum website itself: http://museum.seiko.co.jp/en/

Now on with the show:

After deciding that while in Japan a visit to the Seiko Museum would be a must, I set about researching the museum. Their website is in English so this was a fairly simple process. To visit the museum, you must make a booking with a guide, who takes you on a tour. WE made a booking for ten o’clock in the morning after being told this is generally a fairly quiet time. This was important as we had our 18 month old son with us and we didn’t want to disturb other people. English speaking guides are available. The tour takes about an hour, and after that, the guide bows, leaves and I can only assume that you are free to walk through again unaccompanied. This was never explained and as we had to go anyway, I didn’t ask.
The guide spoke excellent English (she said she had lived in the United States for a few years) and seemed to have a reasonable knowledge of the exhibitions. I say “reasonable” because by her own admission, there was a lot she still didn’t know. She could give you basic information about the exhibitions, but beyond that, she couldn’t. She said that she had actually learned a great deal from the hard core Seiko enthusiasts he had guided. I asked her where most of the visitors came from. She said a great deal come from the Philippines and South East Asia, followed by South America, then Europe and Australia. Apparently there were few visitors from the United States. That’s enough of the background. Let’s see some pics!

The Museum is the North East of Tokyo; the closest station is Higashi-mukjima. This station is roughly a twenty minute train ride from Ginza.
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Luckily, the location of the Museum is shown on the large map in the station, along with directions on how to get there. We followed the road through a pleasant little suburb where pedestrians share the road with bicycles and cars…

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And about 10 minutes later, the museum came in to view. If you have already looked at the Museum website, you will see the building looks like this (and it actually does)…
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However they don’t show you what’s around it. The museum is in a busy main read heading east amongst some old light industrial workshops and apartments. Here’s the rest of the museum…

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The tour started on the ground floor with many historical horological instruments exhibited. We saw an array of sundials from various countries; incense burning and water clocks; and early mechanical clocks, with an accuracy of +/- 30 minutes per day! The guide told me I was welcome to take photos, which I did (to a point). Here’s selection of some of the timepieces. The guide wound them up and we were able to see them working. For more pics, I suggest going to the Seiko Museum website.

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Part 2 continues below.



:wis2:
 

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If you are editing long forum posts offline then using an editor can make it a bit quicker and easier than doing it all online in the forum at one. I have used the basic BBCeditor program by Fenix Productions that runs on Windows but there are alternatives for MacOS etc. if you have a quick search.

An editor just makes it easier to work with long posts and proof what you are writing. It also helps to have a much larger editing window than the forum provides.

Good luck on your write up and we all look forward to seeing your report.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Seiko Watch Museum tour part 2

We then went up to the second floor, where there was an impressive display of Edo era Japanese clocks. They had this strange system of dividing day and night up in to intervals. I pointed out that the days get longer and shorter according to the seasons, and guide said that this was one of the drawbacks of the Japanese timekeeping system of that time. No pics of these - see website.

From there, we started to enter the watch section. There were many pocket watches on display, both Eurppean and Japanese. Unfortunately many of the display captions were only Japanese, so unless I asked there was next to no information available.

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The watch on the right is an early Seikosha (another name for Seiko) railway watch from 1931.

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There is also a short pictorial history of Seiko and a biographical display of the Seiko founder Kintaro Hattori, who started Seiko when he was 21. I didn’t take any pics of this section. We then came to the section that most people come to the museum for – the wrist watches.
Please note that these were difficult to photograph well due to their size, so once again apologies for the quality and quantity of photos. These pics represent about 15% of what was on display. BTW, no I didn’t see any divers’ watches.

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These are some of the first wrist watches made by Seiko. L: Glory R: Seiko

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More to come.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Sign explaining how mechanical and quartz watches work. For obvious reasons, all I could do was study the diagrams.

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Certificate that came with the first Grand Seiko:
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…and an early Grand Seiko.
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After that, we went back to the ground floor where the sports timing equipment was on display.

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And that concluded the tour. AFter that, I went to the small shop and made some purchases:

A hourglass using grindings from the Seiko factory..
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And an old Japanese timekeeping system. It's similar to a sundial in that it relies on the sun casting shadows to work. With this one, you fold up small cuts of the paper and measure the length of the shadow.
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I also bought a couple of postcards an helped myself to the many Seiko brochures and catalogues available. Then it was time to go and have lunch. I wish I could have spent a little longer there but as my family was with me I was aware that they could only look at so many watches and clocks before they had enough. Next time I will go alone and spend the good portion of a day there. You are probably wondering how much this cost. Absolutely nothing. It was free.

I hope you enjoyed the review, and it inspires you to go and have a look for yourself.

Thanks for reading!

Please do not quote me when replying. People don't want to have to scroll through the whole review again to get to a reply.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for the writeup!

I plan to take a trip to Japan next year, and The Seiko Museum sounds like a must-visit.
Thank you gentlemen. Reading back over my post, I realise that I have missed a lot so consider this a very brief overview of the whole place.
Yes, you should go. It adds a lot to your knowledge and as I mentioned in the article, costs nothing. Just make sure you book - you can't just turn up. Looks my post worked - I was hoping it would inspire someone to go!
 

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Thank you for the write up Soulboy. I did the tour in September 2010 and really enjoyed it. It looks like the place has been given a bit of a spruce up since then. Also we found it quite difficult to find as there were no signs then at the railway station. Luckily my wife speaks a bit of Japanese and a very helpful older gentlemen asked a cab driver for directions for us.

I'd go back anytime I'm in Japan.
 

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Very enjoyable and thank you for taking the time to post. If I get to Japan next year, the museum will be a must do.
Cheers, Brian
 

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Thanks for sharing the write up Soulboy, it is obvious how much you enjoyed the visit.

I have been lucky enough to have visited multiple times and each time is always enlightening.

Was any part of the 100th Anniversary special exhibition still showing when you were there? This was located on the second floor on the right hand side.

I did a short write up when I visited that also shows some more photos.

I also just updated my instructions to include getting to the Museum from Minamisenju Station as this can be easier to get from as it involves a couple less train changes from many parts of the city.

I can strongly echo Soulboys comments that if you get a chance then definitely add a visit to the Museum on your trip to Tokyo.
 
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