I am lucky enough to have just returned from an amazing 2 week trip to Japan with my family, visiting friends who have recently moved to Osaka. What a trip! You know when you come back from a big adventure, it can take a while to process it?! That’s me just now. But it is nice to be back.
One of the places we visited was Osaka Museum of History. To be honest, this was pretty much by accident, as we happened to find ourselves in the area, but I am so glad we did! And I will preface this post by saying there’s a lot more to this museum than the models, and you could easily spend hours and hours there. But my favourite bit, inevitably, was the scale models.
The museum is spread over 4 floors, and the floor depicting life in the 19th century houses the most impressive models, which are included here. There are 8 or 10 massive models, each around 2 or 3 metres across, and at a scale of 1:20. For reference, my recent model of the distillery for the Scotch Whisky Experience was 1 x 2m at 1:22.5, and took me about 3 months to make! I can’t imagine the man-hours that would’ve gone into these. The detail in these models is incredible. They really do give an amazing impression of life at that time, both domestic and public, and all have such character and soul, which I often find to be lacking in this type of model.
The texture and detail in the models
On models of this size, you often see vast expanses of flat colour or no texture, and repetition of detail. Or occasionally, it goes too far the other way - overly textured and it begins to look twee and dolls-housy. These models, in my opinion, struck the balance perfectly, if you look at the roofs and walls, there’s variation in the colours, but in a fairly subtle and very realistic way.
The model figures
I was blown away by the detail and variation in the model figures. They are beautifully done - their clothes, poses, and even facial expressions. There’s real character in them, you get a feel for a story being told. There was even characters having an argument, and semi naked ones having a wash! Check out the images below of the Kabuki actor - these figures are only about 90mm high. Amazing.
The display of the models
The Osaka Museum of History is obviously a big showpiece museum which was extremely well funded and purpose built in 2003. This allowed each of these models to have enough space to view it properly. The short video below shows one of the models which constantly rotated slowly, allowing a full 360 degree view of the incredible piece of work.
The models show both internal and external detail, giving a very accurate impression of the buildings and lives of the time.
Looking at these pictures again I wish I could just go back and have another look! The detail just goes on and on. They were absolutely the best collection of models like this I’ve ever seen, and incredibly inspiring. I was equally envious of the model makers, and in awe! So, fingers crossed that next time Osaka Museum of History is thinking of getting a model, they call Finch & Fouracre!