I had never heard of a sex museum. But in January of 2010, my friend Shinnosuke and I were making a 3+ hour trip to go see one in the small town of Fujihara. This town was a once popular tourist spot thanks to its hot springs and waterfalls. But, that was a long time ago. Today it is quiet and getting quieter. Though the hot springs and waterfalls may still draw a handful of tourists, it's nothing like it once was.
In fact, at one time Fujihara was so popular that it could support its very own sex museum (in Japanese: 秘宝館). One of forty-six ever made in Japan. It was my understanding that this was a "robot" sex museum, though I'm not sure where I originally heard that from. Before you're greatly disappointed I'll point out that there were no robots here. At best they could be considered animatronics. Like Disneyland. Most of the time they were just statues or mannequins. You'll see in the video.
But, we were determined to come see this place. Via train, bus, and automobile we finally got here, and it was lucky that we didn't put it off for some other year. The Kinugawa Sex Museum closed its doors on New Year's Eve of 2014, just under five years after we graced its sexy doors with our presence.
Please watch the video we made about this sex museum to understand its full glory. Pictures just can't do it justice, though I'll try to delve into some of what we saw using words.
Warning: This video and this article are not safe for work. They contain boobies and penises and rude sexual acts performed by mannequins.
Still interested? Have a free view, on us:
Fujihara wasn't exactly difficult to get to, but it wasn't easy either. Our end location was the Kinugawa-Onsen Station, which I thought was "quaint," kind of in the same way apartment listings for very old buildings get listed as "quaint." Only thing that I remember: there were mini-onsen for your feet nearby. I guess to give you a little taste. "Did you like what that did to your feet? Then you'll love what it can do for your whole body."
Definitely a nice way to wait for your train, anyways.
After a quick lunch near the station we scoped out where we were compared to the sex museum. It was taxi time. We probably could have walked but we had some time restraints. Our plan was to make it up to Sendai that night, which would require some backtracking.
kinugawa-sex-museum-taxi The taxi driver seemed surprised we wanted to go to the Kinugawa Sex Museum. I guess most people ask to go to their hotel/onsen, or at the very least the waterfalls. He told us about the waterfalls just in case.
Turns out they were pretty much right behind the sex museum, so we walked down the hill to view them. They were okay. Nothing too amazing. Then again we didn't go too far down the path. We had sexy robots to take video of.
kinugawa-waterfalls So here we were, back in front of the Kinugawa Sex Museum.
Nothing too weird yet. When we went inside, we were greeted by this. The more you look around the more you'll see. Where's Waldo? Not here. He's only in pictures appropriate for children.
The old man at the ticket counter was perhaps my favorite part of the whole experience. He was a charismatic old man, and the first thing he did was insist that we take pictures. "Please take pictures!" he said. "They are completely allowed." It was almost as if he was begging us to create a record of his legacy.
Usually I had to deal with the complete opposite, so it was a nice change of pace.
After paying our entrance fee we made our way down some stairs. This was starting to get interesting. Art! It was a museum, after all.
That underwear picture above is actually covering a hole in the wall. Just a little extra info you wouldn't get in any other publication. Take that NY Times.
When we came out into the main area, it was a lot like a regular museum. There were several "exhibits" each depicting its own special sex scene. To get a real feel for them watch the video (top of this post). But, I've provided some pictures and descriptions here as well.
Sex Museum Exhibits
It seemed like this was one of their most prized possessions. I think it's supposed to be Marylin Monroe?
They even had pictures of some Japanese idol doing stuff with it.
In this exhibit, this lady was spying on two people at an onsen. It's hard to see from this angle, but the spying lady was doing something else too.
In this exhibit, two people talk to each other via their windows. But, what's going on inside this lady's house? The King of Pirates is what's happening.
This is a hallway filled with educational materials and faces.
This scene had a lot of sound effects and I was quite startled by its existence. Definitely the most shocking exhibit, even considering that this is a Japanese sex museum.
Of course, you can't be a sex museum if you don't have a "lord having an orgy" exhibit. This one had a lot of pieces to it, but nothing moved so it wasn't all that impressive.
This exhibit is probably why I thought there were robots. Two statues moved around on sliders, before disappearing behind falling water and fog, only to be replaced by a video projected onto the fog. This whole thing is in the video and makes more sense that way.
And last, but not least, "the meditating monk." I thought this one was clever/funny. In the mirror you can see what is in his mind's eye while he prays/meditates. In the physical realm you can, well, see his "physical form" manifest. And guess what? His "physical form" moves! A lot. And makes a trumpet noise. Doo doo dooo 🎶!
That about does it for the exhibits. It wasn't a small museum but it also wasn't huge either. I'm not sure if I could have taken any more of this anyways.
Kinugawa Sex Museum Gift Shop!
Just like any good museum, the last room was a gift shop. I bet you can guess what kind of stuff gets sold at a sex museum gift shop…
I kind of wish I bought one of these fukubukuro.
I also played a UFO catcher filled with sexy things. I did not win. Thank goodness. I'm not sure what I'd do with the winnings other than throw them away.
There was nobody manning the gift shop, though, so it was easy to leave. I have a feeling the old man at the front was the owner, ticket-man, shopkeep, and Kinugawa Sex Museum's one and only #1 employee of the decade three decades running.
We took the bus back to the station this time. The wait gave us some time to reflect and talk about the experience. I don't think I would ever come back here (even if they hadn't closed in 2014). I'm not sure if I'd have recommended anyone else going here either. It was so far out of the way and so niche (but so so weird!). But, I won't remember this as a bad experience either. I did have a lot of fun, and it was completely unique. It's probably one of my most vivid memories even to this day. I mean, how would I ever forget?
It was dark, but we finally made it back to Kinugawa Onsen Station. While we waited for our train, Shinnosuke sat silently, warming his feet. He hasn't spoken a word since.
This place no longer exists, though it still exists in my mind. In the future when we all have brain implants, I’ll let you visit and relive the experience.