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Bichler, Regina (2019): Regionale und nationale Identitätsbildung im „Nihon Minka Shūraku Hakubutsukan“ (Freilichtmuseum japanischer Bauernhäuser) in Toyonaka. Bachelor, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
(Munich University Japan Center Graduation Theses)


A distinct feature of the museum culture in Japan is the existence of both open-air museums focused on local or regional exhibits, and focused on exhibits collected from across the nation. With many of them established after the Second Word War, this poses the question if there has been the intent to (re-)construct an either local-regional or national identity through the narrative of the exhibition. This hypothesis has been tested on the Nihon Minka Shūraku Hakubutsukan 日本民家集落博物館 („Open-Air Museum of Old Japansese Farm Houses”) in Toyonaka, an architectural open-air museum in the Osaka prefecture covering farm houses from various regions of Japan as old as from the early Edo period, which has been founded in 1956 and has been largely unchanged since then. Its exhibition was analysed by using recent and past museological concepts to assess both the exhibition’s effectiveness in identity construction as well as the contemporary cultural background during the museum’s establishment. Presentational techniques, texts and educational means were scrutinized for their form and content, and also the general mechanisms of identity construction in museums were applied to the exhibition in Toyonaka. The findings point out that although only few museological concepts seem to have been incorporated in the exhibition, identification with Japan as a homogenous cultural space is being evoked by attributing congruent values and ways of thinking to different parts of Japan and focusing on the invented tradition of a common Edo period culture continuing until today. Additionally, through a variety of exhibits from the Kansai area and the presentation of local aspects in national historic events, an ultimate japaneseness is expressed in a peasantly lifestyle at rural sites. Furthermore, participation of locals in administration and maintenance of the museum as well as regular events for both adults and children makes the museum a platform for local activities and communication between residents, fortifying the potential for identification with the Kansai region. Regardless of the prevalence of either national or regional identification, the museum provides a site for nostalgic immersion and offers to its visitors a refuge of entertaiment and an idyllic world uneffected and incorrupted by the events of WWII and the problems of modern life.