This Huge Spectacle Museum In Tokyo Contains Over 10,000 Pairs Of Sunglasses

For fifty years, the Rogan Megane Hakubutsukan, or Spectacles Museum, was a celebrated landmark for purchasing eyeglasses and sunglasses, both in Japan and internationally. Located on the lively Higashi-dori shopping street in Minami-Ikebukuro, Tokyo, its captivating exterior decorated with numerous colorful sunglasses made it an essential destination in the capital.

Spearheaded by Yutaka Takei, the Spectacles Museum underwent a remarkable evolution from a basic warehouse to a dynamic exhibition of eyewear, appealing to tourists and residents alike. Led by Takei’s vision, the museum transformed into a vibrant hub, drawing in visitors with its extensive collection of eyewear and affordable prices.

Initially operating as a wholesaler of various goods, Takei shifted his focus to eyewear as the wholesale business became less lucrative. To distinguish his store, he invested heavily in marketing, transforming the Spectacles Museum into a spectacle itself with its striking exterior and vast inventory of eyeglasses and sunglasses. Moreover, Takei capitalized on discounted merchandise, offering remarkably low prices that drew throngs of customers.

Despite its popularity and success, the Spectacles Museum faced challenges that ultimately led to its closure in March 2022. Takei, aged 76 at the time, cited reasons including his waning energy to manage the business, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, and dwindling eyewear prices, making profitability unattainable. The shift from high-priced to more affordable eyewear also contributed to the demise of smaller businesses like the Spectacles Museum, which couldn’t compete with larger corporations.

“In the past, regular glasses cost 30,000 to 40,000 yen, and glasses shops only had to sell one pair a day. Now it’s 5000 yen, 6000 yen,” Takei said. “When this happens, only the major companies can survive.”

While there are reports of the Spectacles Museum possibly operating at a different location in Tokyo, it lacks the distinctive charm of the original establishment. Nevertheless, memories of its vibrant displays and affordable eyewear endure through online archives and social media posts.

The closure of the Spectacles Museum marks the end of an era in Japanese retail, symbolizing the challenges faced by small businesses in an evolving market landscape. Despite its closure, the museum leaves behind a legacy of creativity, affordability, and entrepreneurial spirit that resonates with visitors and enthusiasts worldwide.

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