TOKYO – What type of museums do you usually visit? Museums may easily fall into the category of quintessential tourist destinations, but for the niche and highly specialized sort, there’s certainly room for the unexpected. Found right in the heart of Tokyo’s redeveloped Shiodome district, housed within the country’s largest advertising company, sits the only advertising museum in Japan: ’s. adobo Magazine’s team, led by our very own Editor in Chief and Chief Digital Officer, was granted the privilege of a private tour through the Ad Museum as well as around Dentsu’s headquarters located in Caretta Shiodome.
You might ask what’s there to see in an advertising museum apart from ads, ads, and, well, more ads? How about over 280,000 recorded materials and artifacts related to advertising since the Edo Period (1603-1868) until the present. As a city with the world’s largest metropolitan economy and ranking first in the Global Economic Power Index, to say that Tokyo has a wealth of history and knowledge in the art of commercial business and marketing would be an understatement. For those who’ve had the privilege of strolling through Tokyo’s streets, teeming with commercial centres and over 50 , one might’ve paused in the midst of awe to contemplate the ways of the Japanese and the centuries that paved its road to economic glory. Luckily, the Ad Museum offers a peek into the social and cultural value of advertising—through a time capsule, if you will—that goes all the way back to the Edo Period, where these historical accounts of marketing can be traced.
The museum itself is dedicated to collecting and preserving all things advertising in Japan, but not merely for the sake of display and heritage. Through the Yoshida Hideo Memorial Foundation (), the museum aims “to contribute to academic research in advancing theoretical and technical aspects of marketing, thereby contributing to Japan’s economical, industrial and cultural advancement.” These include awarding grants for academic researchers and offering facilities such as special exhibition spaces and a library that houses over 27,000 materials on award-winning Japanese advertising works.
The Ad Museum Tokyo is located inside Dentsu’s headquarters, within Caretta Shiodome—a four-minute walk from the Shimbashi Station.
Caretta Shiodome, Higashi-Shimbashi 1-8-2, Minato-ku, Tokyo 105-7090