Shizuoka: The World Capital of Scale Models
Welcome to Shizuoka

What’s so special about Shizuoka, Japan? Well for starters, it’s there that you’ll find the legendary Mt. Fuji, along with the speedway named after it, miles of beautiful coastline and the headquarters of some of Japan’s most well-known companies. Motoring enthusiasts will be excited to know that headquarters and factories of both Suzuki and Yamaha can be found in Shizuoka, along with a quaint little tuning house called HKS.

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And what’s Shizuoka’s most famous industry? Well, many will tell you it’s hobbies – more specifically, scale models. Fujimi, Aoshima, Hasegawa, Tamiya and more – these are names known by modelers around the world, and all of them can be found in Shizuoka.

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So how did this one little area become such an epicenter for hobbies? Well back in the years around World War II, several small companies took advantage of Shizuoka’s plentiful forests to begin producing wooden models and toys. Then in 1958, Japan’s first plastic models were produced and soon all the same companies were building plastic models while keeping Shizuoka as their home.

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As Japan’s economy grew in the years following the war, so did these modelmakers, who soon found themselves beginning to export their products around the globe. Today, Japanese model brands are known around the world for their detail and quality and you’ll find just about all of them in Shizuoka.

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In 2011 the Shizuoka Hobby Promotion Council opened the Shizuoka Hobby Square with the goal of showcasing the local industry and spreading awareness to visitors and hobbyists from both Japan and abroad. Last month I decided to stop by and check it out.

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Fortunately Shizuoka Hobby Square is very easy to access. To get there you simply hop off the Shinkansen bullet train at Shizuoka Station, which is conveniently located right on the popular Tokyo to Osaka route.

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Once you’re off the train, it’s just a short walk to the Hobby Square which is located in a building directly adjacent to the station.

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What exactly is Shizuoka Hobby Square? Well, it’s part showroom, part museum and part retail store. It’s not a giant place by any means, but if you’re at all interested in modelling and hobby culture, it’s well worth a stop.

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With the exception of a special event area, admission is free and one of the first things you’ll find is a large showroom filled with scale models and radio control vehicles of every type.

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The idea is to allow the area’s companies to show off their latest products and sometimes even give the public a chance to see prototype models they are working on.

They’ve got it all
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Of course you can find a lot more than just model cars here. In fact you can find everything from scale replicas of historic Japanese castles…

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To the latest in miniature robots.

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There were also lots of military, maritime and aircraft models to be seen, which I’m sure will interest many petrolheads. I for one enjoy scale aircraft and ships almost as much as cars.

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But we’re here for the cars, and fortunately there’s a lot to see here for fans of scale automobiles – whether they’re plastic models, radio controlled or diecast.

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Tamiya is the best known of the bunch, and their display area inside Hobby Square included all matter of scale vehicles, from RC off-roaders to highly detailed model kits.

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One of Tamiya’s latest products is the LaFerrari, available in both radio control and 1:24 plastic model versions. Sadly, I can guarantee that this is the closest any of us will ever get to owning one of these cars.

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Aoshima is another company that makes some damn cool models, including the Rocket Bunny replica I wrote about here recently. Their display inside the Hobby Square included everything from the classic Lamborghinis you see here…

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To full-on Itasha replicas. Hey, this is Japan after all.

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Another well-known company that calls Shizouka home is Ebbro, the maker of fine diecast automobile models that I’m sure many of you have stacked on your shelves.

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The Ebbro display included many of the brand’s famous 1:43 replicas.

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But it also included this enormous R35 GT-R Super GT diecast model, which I believe was 1:10 scale.

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The detail on the GT-R was incredible, and there’s no doubt this thing would cost more than most of the real project cars I’ve bought in my life.

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Ebbro also makes plastic model kits, including this highly detailed 1:20 scale recreation of the Lotus Type 72C.

History and more
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Along with the showroom for new products, there’s also a small museum area which pays homage to the history of Shizuoka’s hobby industry.

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Here you’ll find examples of pioneering products like wooden model airplanes and early toy cars.

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There are other cool artifacts on display, like this original Tamiya Tyrrell P34 box art from 1977. We all know that box art can be just as cool as the models themselves!

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Other display cases are full of completed projects from local modeling clubs, and seeing these only made me realize that I just don’t have the coordination to do stuff like this.

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Someone has a thing for Jägermeister cars it seems. Good taste!

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Another corner of the building includes a track to race Tamiya Mini 4WDs. This is the next best thing to those awesome slot car joints they had when I was a kid.

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Hobby Square also includes a retail store. Though it’s nowhere near the size of some places I’ve seen in Tokyo, it’s got a a nice selection of products from all the local brands.

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As I constantly find in Japan, it’s a never-ending fight against the temptation to spend ridiculous amounts of money. Considered yourself warned.

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And if the plastic models weren’t enough, the shop is also well stocked with those great Ebbro diecasts. They might not be cheap, but they fit in a suitcase oh so easily…

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Whether you’re looking to spend some money, relive childhood memories or just get a closer look at Shizuoka’s famous industry, a visit to Hobby Square is another worthy addition to any Japan trip. Tell ‘em Speedhunters sent you!

Mike Garrett
Instagram: speedhunters_mike



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So want to visit this place, add another reason to save for a long Japan trip.  Thank you for this post! As I love looking at automotive hobbies.


Sooo...I'm looking at Ebbro diecast cars now...
Thank you for this story!


@zz  Unfortunately most of the stories on Speedhunters tend to see me scurrying off to some internet site working out how much of (insert latest fascination here) I can afford. 

At least on a smaller scale it's a little more attainable!


Speedhunters_Bryn  It took me a while to realize this again once I got out of high school.  I can easily say that the smaller scale automotive hobbies keep my enthusiasm up for the 1/1 auto hobbies.


@zz  haha same here man


When I get to Japan I will keep at least 5 hours for this place.
(Could be dangerous, I  have a 1/24 - 1/25 addiction).
How much for an extra carry on !?!


Do we get a discount if we name drop you? (^_-)


Any tips on where some of the bigger hobby/model/toy shops are in Tokyo or Osaka.....I've often enjoyed looking at and buying various ones at the events and shows over there, but never paid too much attention to finding a shop or two.


Spaghetti  Tokyo is easy.. go to Nakano Mall or Akihabara. You can't get away from them. Osaka you want to head into denden town, which is near Nipponbashi station. My favorite place to shop though, is about an hour north of Osaka in Kyoto. B's hobby. They have a sister shop in Yokohama as well, just south of Tokyo.


Who built those things!!??!?!


add one stop more to the japan trip itinerary...with the other being the 1:1 gundam.  :)


LouisSoon  they're probably done by each company's in-house modelers.


LouisSoon  oh wait, mike did say some were built by local modeling clubs :)


- It's 100 miles to Shizuoka, it's dark, and we are wearing sunglasses!
- Hit it!

Seriously!  I am going! I need to see this!  Hope they have some good coffee in that town!


TokyoCarGuy Do it!


nugundam93 Too much to see, not enough time.


nugundam93 LouisSoonThat's correct!


majik16106 Spaghetti^ What he said :)


azmedaj Worth a shot! Haha


jzx81 You've been warned haha!


WFunktion Speedhunters_BrynI think that's the case for most of us.


WFunktion No prob. Glad I could help.


Mike, if you enjoy looking at scale models, check out my friend Takanori Tetsuda's "The Exhibition of BIG scale Modelcars of the World" in Kanazawa city! He has about 700 models on display, mainly 1:18 and 1:12 scale.


I think my computer monitor is broken: I read this article then felt the immediate need to throw my wallet at the screen!


tbtstt It happens!


gazserm I saw that on Facebook. Looks insane!


Is that a Tamiya Holiday Buggy!??! I have only ever seen one in person, super rare Tamiya R/c!


Shut up and take my money!


majik16106 Thanks! I've been to Akihabara but didn't see an abundance of them as you say. I was there with a mate(his choice) and the place wasn't really my thing, so I probably wasn't paying much attention that day. Nakano mall might be worth a try though. Kyoto is somewhere I don't think I'll be going back to any time soon as I've been there a few times now, but Osaka will be my fly in fly out city next trip, so I might look there too.


Mike, I can see Asuna and Kirito from Sword Art Online Mazda RX7 FD3S Miniature Itasha....I've seen this anime already


Awesome post Mike! I have been building scale plastic kits for 20+ years.  A great way to preserve automotive history in miniature form.  Love all your model posts!


where is the place, i want go there in vacation ?


Are this for sell?
How can I buy them?


Looking for help to ID the Company that made this die cast and when TM in a Diamond outline.. Japan., I will up load to more pictures


Hi friends,
I want to buy a Daihatsu F20 or F50 die-cast model. Do you have this model.?
Do you know Where can I get the model?
Best regards


Sssoooo sad we don’t have any one of these stores near Nyc. Been a collector for 27 yrs have over 300 cars no space in my closets anymore but still wanting more I would probably waste all my salary on cars if i where to live in Japan.