Enkei Gekijo Kurayoshi Figure Museum
Kurayoshi-city, Tottori – the city with beautiful old streets of storehouses with red roofing tiles and white walls.
The round school building has been loved by people for many years as the symbol of the town.
The building features an old-style architecture that we rarely see today and includes a spiral staircase that children used to run up and down and fan-shaped classrooms where children used to listen to their teachers.
At one point, it was planned to demolish the school building due to deterioration; however, as many local people didn’t like the idea, it was restored instead.
Today, the building is filled with many figures of dinosaurs, animals, anime heroes and popular characters instead of children.
Manga culture has always been embraced in Tottori prefecture, especially since there is a factory of a globally acknowledged figure manufacturer in Kurayoshi-city. Because of the local characteristic, it was decided to use the building as the largest-scale figure museum the world has ever seen.
From the oldest round school building in Japan to the newest mecca of action figures in Japan
The museum is a place where visitors cannot only see the exhibited figures, but also connect with each other regardless of the age or nationality through learning the production process of figures and experiencing figure-making.
Let’s see what culture and dramas the place will produce.
The hope to revive the oldest round school building in Japan that has been the pride of the small town
The old building of Meirin Elementary School, which is considered to be the oldest round school building in Japan, is located in Kurayoshi-city, Tottori. Round school buildings were built across the nation around 1955 to address the increasing number of school children caused by the baby boom after WWII. The construction of the old building of Meirin Elementary School was completed in 1955 as well.
Unfortunately, after more than 10 years since the building was closed, the exterior was dilapidated with broken windows replaced with plywood. You could also see rust on the veranda fence, broken floor tiles and water stains on the ceilings.
Due to significant deterioration, the old building of Meirin elementary school, the symbol of the town, was initially planned to be demolished.
Suggestion of a new culture to the nation and the world through the figure museum
After the demolition of the school building was announced, there were many objections raised to it, as it was hard for local people to believe that the round school building, which had been a part of their town, would disappear. Some of them started to collect signatures for a petition to repair the building step by step and restore the original appearance. As a result, they managed to collect nearly 7,000 signatures and successfully stopped the old round building of Meirin Elementary School from being demolished.
Then there was another thing – just restoring and preserving the building as the symbol of the town didn’t seem enough to us. The building has one-of-a-kind architecture that features a spiral staircase in the center and fan-shaped classrooms as well as unique exterior. In order to make full use of it, we decided to turn it into a large-scale figure exhibition facility in collaboration with Good Smile Company Inc., a major figure manufacturer, Kiyodo Co., Ltd., one of the most established figure brands in the industry and Yonago Gianax Inc.
At Enkei Gekijo, we are hoping that many people find the round school building “interesting” while enjoying the exhibition of figures that represent “Cool Japan”. At the same time, we are also hoping that visitors learn about Japan’s advanced figure production techniques at the exhibition. We believe that the figure museum is beneficial to both the school building and the figures. We intend to make the building a great facility so that, in the future, local kids can proudly say “There are a round school building and a figure museum in my town!”.