Hot off the heals of his trip to the Machu Pichu of USA, Japan, our mystery-hunting reporter Masanuki Sunakoma had heard dark whispers of another secretive location that is said to house several of ancient humanity’s greatest creations, from the Parthenon to the Moai statues of Easter Island.
This unbelievable cache of art was said to be found on a chain of islands in Nakama City, a suburb of Kitakyushu City. Not one to ignore outlandish rumors from shady sources, Masanuki hopped on a JR Kyushu Chikuho Main Line train to Nakama Station.
Exiting the quaint station, Masanuki flinched under the scorching sunlight. It was too hot for a mystical adventure, but just when he asked a worker at the station how to acquire a hovercraft with which to reach the forbidden isles, he was told it was actually just a short walk from where he was.
Our intrepid reporter was told to go to Moyai-dori. “Moyai” is an old Japanese word meaning “cooperation,” intended to represent the area’s history as a once-prosperous coal mining town. It was also suspiciously close to “Moai…”
Suddenly, and without warning, the islands appeared before Masanuki. Sure, they were traffic islands, but islands nonetheless. They were completely uninhabited and overgrown with lush vegetation. Moreover, they were constantly circled by dangerous man-eating Hondas.
After reaching the shore of the first traffic island, he was greeted by a sign indicating this place as “The Roofless Museum.” In addition to having no roof, this museum was totally chill and pointed out that you can touch the exhibits all you want in order to connect with ancient times.
The museum was comprised of four island zones, each with a different theme: The Path of Home, where Masanuki now stood, had artifacts from Japan and Asia; exhibits from Europe and Africa could be found in The Path of Tranquility; The Path to Ancient Times contained works from Africa and America; and The Path of Moyai had items from Oceania.
Masanuki first came across well-known relics found in ancient Japanese tombs. Dating back to the 5th and 6th century these stone horse and soldier statues are usually heavily guarded in a museums, but now just sitting openly in patches of grass.
Even though they were just stone replicas, there was something intriguing about having the ability to just walk up to them and make physical contact with the legendary works.
Even if you aren’t an expert in archaeology, each exhibit has a helpful panel explaining the original work’s size and importance.
Masanuki also learned that the Chinese were literally centuries ahead of Japan when it came to making stone horses.
There were a lot of pieces to look at and touch, so Masanuki needed to take a break. He stopped at a pair of covered benches, only to find he was actually sitting in the Parthenon.
After refreshing himself in the Parthenon, our reporter was ready to go in search of the legendary Sphinx. The placard at the beginning of the journey told Masanuki that touching these replicas would “transport” him to the ancient times from whence they came. He reached out and gently pressed his fingers against the Sphinx’s cheek, bracing himself for the quantum leap…
…but nothing happened.
Still, after getting over his indoctrinated fear of touching historical things in museums, Masanuki began to want to do it more and more. He especially enjoyed feeling up the Olmec Colossal Head of 9th Century BC Mexico.
Finally, Masanuki came face to face with the Moai of Nakama City Traffic Island, much like their Easter Island counterparts. These huge figures had a certain aura of mystery about them.
Masanuki also learnt that all of these replicas were made from ruins of the old Katsuki Line which was a part of the now-defunct Japanese National Railway.
It was intended to be a tourist attraction, but Masanuki was the only tourist there on that particular day. But the Roofless Museum is truly a great tourist destination for tourists who can’t stand being around other tourists.
The Roofless Museum / 屋根のない博物館
Fukuoka-ken, Nakama-shi, Chuo 2-5
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