Monchhichi Park to Be Upgraded with Mini-museum in Tokyo

Courtesy of Sekiguchi Co.

A park in honor of Monchhichi — a lovely stuffed monkey that became a worldwide phenomenon — is being expanded in the Nishi-Shinkoiwa district of Katsushika Ward, Tokyo.

Katsushika Ward is the birthplace of the Monchhichi doll. The expansion of Monchhichi Park is scheduled to be completed in April 2022, including the building of a small museum to introduce the hometown hero’s history.

The ward government hopes that it can make the area into a must-see destination for fans of Monchhichi.

The dolls are made by Sekiguchi Inc., a toy maker based in the ward. The fluffy, stuffed monkeys with cute little pacifiers hit the market in 1974, becoming wildly popular with adults as well as kids. It’s now a classic toy of that era.

The popularity extended into Europe, the United States, Asia and other parts of the world. In total, some 80 million have been sold, the company said.

Back then, “they were fixated on making something cute, but they said that they had never imagined the item would become a social phenomenon,” said a person from the company’s marketing department.

To vitalize the neighborhood that gave birth to Monchhichi, the park was built in 2016 near the company’s offices on roughly 4,000 square meters. The ward government also has Monchhichi designs on its manhole covers and buses.

Yet the park’s only Monchhichi features were a design on the ground and pictures around the toilet.

Local residents told the ward they wanted more themed items, such as playground equipment. However, the park’s role as a base for disaster preparedness activities has prevented them from installing major equipment, because the wide open space is needed to allow things like distributing food after a disaster.

The ward decided to purchase two lots adjacent the park, adding about 650 square meters. A supplementary budget including ¥167 million for the land and associated costs was passed by the ward assembly.

The new area is to be filled with Monchhichi — including a themed monument, gate, benches and playground equipment. The main installation will be a mini-museum that will have photos of the various generations of Monchhichi and displays of stuffed animals.

Courtesy of the Katsushika ward government
Design for a Monchhichi mini-museum and monument

“We want to take advantage of Katsushika being the birthplace of Monchhichi and create a park where lots of people will visit,” an official of the ward said.