Five Friends from Japan Opens at National Museum of Play June 18

National Museum of Play News Release
One Manhattan Square Rochester, NY 14607 585-263-2700

May 20, 2011

For Immediate Release

Contact: Susan Trien, 585-410-6359,
Shane Rhinewald, 585-410-6365,

Five Friends from Japan: Children in Japan Today Opens at National Museum of Play Saturday, June 18

Visit Japan without a passport! Discover the similarities and differences between Japanese and U.S. kids in a new, interactive exhibit, Five Friends from Japan: Children in Japan Today, opening at The Strong’s National Museum of Play Saturday, June 18.  (An opening day family celebration including Japanese crafts, martial arts, and drumming takes place on Saturday, June 18 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.).

Step inside a typical Japanese classroom where you will encounter video messages from the five contemporary Japanese children featured in the exhibit. After getting acquainted and participating in customary activities in the Japanese school, guests can follow the friends home to learn more about their interests, families, and neighborhoods.

Video narratives and hands-on activities led by the five friends await you at each of the rooms, modeled after real Japanese homes:

Sakiko’s Bedroom: An only child who owns many pets, Sakiko invites you to try on traditional Japanese fashions and take a look at her favorite jeans and hoodies. Check out real manga (comics), and create your own. Compare Sakiko’s bedroom to those of girls in America.

Ken’s Tatami Room: Ken is the oldest of four siblings with a Japanese father and an American mother. He loves baseball and Harry Potter books. In his tatami room, you can experiment with Japanese calligraphy, try out futon bedding, and learn about traditional home architecture.

Aisa’s Kitchen and Tofu Shop: Here, role-playing and Japanese cuisine are on the menu. With Aisa’s help, guests fill up on information about the variety of foods and eating habits in Japan and learn about traditional festivals that take place in her town.

Yusuke’s Yard: Practice aikido—a Japanese martial art--in Yusuke’s yard. You will also discover that not all Japanese gardens are pristinely manicured and designed for meditation. In fact, Yusuke’s yard is filled with his bug collection and sports equipment.

Shoko’s Living Room: Kids are invited to listen to and create different types of Japanese music. Shoko, who is from an elite and culturally conservative family, shares her shell and stone collections. Her living room looks quite similar to many in the United States.

Interactive Stations and Displays: Guests can also enjoy a variety of engaging Japanese-inspired family activities and displays within the exhibit. Create origami, charms, and Sudoku puzzles at the craft tables; play with Japanese-inspired toys, building materials, and games in the play area; and thumb through Japanese books and comics (manga) at the book nook. Challenge yourself to the popular video game Katamari Forever.

Cases filled with objects from The Strong’s own renowned collections show the impact of Japanese culture on American play and popular culture—from the late 19th century fascination with decorative “oriental” objects, to Godzilla and Rodan, to today’s Pokemon and Hello Kitty.

The recent disasters in Japan have severely affected the lives of all Japanese, old and young. The Strong invites visitors to the Five Friends from Japan exhibit to compose messages of support and sympathy that The Strong will send to the City of Rochester’s sister city of Hamamatsu, Japan. Those interested in supporting the relief effort financially can contribute at

Five Friends from Japan: Children in Japan Today remains on view at the National Museum of Play through Sunday, September 11, 2011.

Created by The Children’s Museum of Boston and Capital Children’s Museum. Five Friends is part of the Asian Exhibit Initiative, funded by the Freeman Foundation and administered by the Association of Children’s Museums.


Note: For full press kit with hi res images:


Museum Hours: Monday–Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

Admission Fees: General Admission (does not include admission to Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden®): Adults $12; Seniors $11; Children (2–15) $10; Children younger than two free; museum members free.

 Admission to Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden®: General Admission fee plus $2 for members, $4 for nonmembers; Children under 2 free. Entry is by timed ticket only. Please call 585-263-2700 to reserve and purchase tickets.

Parking:  Free parking is available at the museum for all guests on a first-come, first-served basis. Please note that, on high visitation days, the museum lot may reach capacity early in the day. If space is not available on site at the time of your visit, additional parking is available at neighboring municipal garages for a fee. The Strong is not responsible for fees incurred at off-site locations.