Kawasaki-city – The Streets of Doraemon
Doraemon has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My mom is a fan of the adorable futuristic robot cat too, so this blue character was always with me throughout the childhood that I spent in Hong Kong. We had all the volumes of the manga, the regular series and spin-offs; I religiously watched the anime after school every day, both new episodes or taped reruns that I’ve already watched numerous times; we had many Doraemon toys and merchandises at home too, including figures, towels, cups, and even a Doraemon-shaped alarm clock that I had a love-hate relationship with. I have always admired and been inspired by the creativity and imagination of this series, and I must admit that Doraemon was one of the reasons why I came to Japan.
In Kawasaki-city, Kanagawa, there is a museum dedicated to Fujiko F. Fujio, the author of Doraemon and many other classic series such as Obake-no-Q-taro and Pa-man. To enter this museum, you must purchase your ticket in advance online or from a convenience store. They don’t sell tickets at the museum entrance at all. And so, I made my preparations to visit this institution of my childhood memories.
The city itself embraces the fact that Fujio-sensei spent most of his years in Kawasaki, thus bits and pieces of his works are all can be located easily between the stations and the museum. In this article, we will explore the sights on the streets before entering the museum itself.
To start, the chimes that play on the two Odakyu-Line stations platforms when the trains arrive are famous theme songs from Fujio-sensei’s work. Hearing the Doraemon theme song as the train doors opened brought the child within me out immediately. I exited the station and saw the city buses covered with arts of multiple characters from various series. If the outside of the vehicle is so colourful, the inside of the buses must be very nicely decorated too, I thought.
However, I was an hour early before my reserved entrance time, so I decided to take the 15 mins. walk to the museum rather than riding the bus (which also saved me 210 yen). Fortunately, that was a great decision I made. Characters created by Fujio-sensei are visible between the station and the museum, such as flags advertising on most lamp posts and 2D character plates standing on street signs that point towards the museum. There is even a Doraemon themed Lawson in the city!
I took the walk from the Mukogaokayuen station to the museum, which was a leisure walk following a river. The city has set up a lot of easter-eggs fans of Fujio-sensei’s work would definitely spot and rejoice over.
There are silhouettes of Doraemon and Dorami on the fencing along both sides of the river. Not only are they eye-catching adorable decorations, they are also placed under the message “don’t climb over the fence, okay?” to remind kids to be careful when they play.
Beautifully metal statues of different series line up along the river side for you to seek out on the way. Each carefully crafted statue is based on the manga design and perfectly brought the 2D designs into our 3D world.
When you are not sure how much further away the museum is and are afraid that you’re lost because you don’t have a map or a smartphone (that was me), panels on the ground with Doraemon’s hand holding up signs ensure you that you’re on the right path and how much further there is, encouraging and hyping you on before you reach the destination.
My favourite piece of these Doraemon street-arts is the fencing on the bridges crossing the river. You get a glimpse of the robot cat’s face enlarged to make up the fencing itself. Fans of Doraemon will immediately notice that the lines are scaled the same way Fujio-sensei does to give Doraemon the blue shade in the black and white manga. It is large, creative and very immersive for my walk towards the museum.
As a huge fan of Doraemon, these little decorations made me feel so warm inside. The city truly felt like a place that I was connected to from my childhood, and it got me determined to move to this city one day.
Regretfully I didn’t take the other walk from Shukugawara station of the JR Lines to see if there were different decorations. Afterwards I found out that there are some decorations too, so I will look forward to seeing that myself next time.
At the Fujiko F. Fujio museum, there are no parking spots available. While taking buses from various train stations is an option, the walk itself definitely adds another layer of Doraemon sight-seeing. Stay tuned for the follow up article when we take a look at the inside of the museum itself!