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Edo-Tokyo Museum

Listed under Art Collections in Tokyo, Japan.

  • Photo of Edo-Tokyo Museum
  • Photo of Edo-Tokyo Museum
  • Photo of Edo-Tokyo Museum
  • Photo of Edo-Tokyo Museum
  • Photo of Edo-Tokyo Museum
  • Photo of Edo-Tokyo Museum
  • Photo of Edo-Tokyo Museum
  • Photo of Edo-Tokyo Museum
Photo of Edo-Tokyo Museum
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The Edo-Tokyo Museum provides a fascinating insight into the history of Tokyo and its people, back to its roots as the small 15th century fishing village of Edo. The permanent exhibitions show artefacts, reproductions and scale models. Among the highlights are a life-size replica of the Nihonbashi Bridge and replica of a Kabuki Theatre accompanied by a miniature model showing the theatre's inner workings and secrets.

Official Edo- Tokyo Museum Website.

Written by  amoore.

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Insiders Guide to the Edo Tokyo Museum

From the outside it looks like a half built Express Way bridging towards an un-started second side – but that's the design, and it's striking. Inside the museum is minimalist, in that it's not an overwhelming mess of artefacts and descriptions but a carefully laid out selection of pieces depicting different facets of life in Tokyo when it was called Edo (from around 1605) to the period of occupation at the end of the war.

Like the museum, I'll lay it out in chronological order – but first I should mention that when I said there isn't a lot of text, I also mean that there is even less written in English – the good news is that you can get a volunteer to guide you around in English for free. I did, and before I begin the tour I should introduce him as he did to me: My museum guide was around 70 – he said he lived in Tokyo during the fire bombing of the second World War, but that he doesn't remember a lot of it, he has two sons, lives about an hour away from the museum, volunteers to practice his English – which he learned at school – and is named Mr. Fuji. He looked like a well dressed Mr. Miyagi and was fantastic – he had a bit of a script going and his English wasn't up to too many complicated questions but he knew a lot about samuri and kept exactly the right distance in the guiding process – he also let me hit a few really big drums, go inside a re-construction of a kabuki theatre and sit in one of those chairs the wealthy used to get carried around in, so I couldn't have asked for a better guide if I had been more organised than to just rock up at the desk and see if there was anyone available...

Back to the tour: The guide books say the highlight is a wooden, Edo period bridge, the Niabashi – meaning Bridge of Japan. It's the first thing you see and it's pretty impressive. On the 6th floor there are two fantastic miniature reconstructions, one of a shogun's complex and another of an area where the town-folk-y-non-samuri people lived – the mini houses had mini buckets of water on the roofs because of all the fires. Mr Fuji told me that there were more people living in Edo period Tokyo than in any other of the world's cities at the time – Edo had 1,000,000 people and 100,000 samuri and London only had 700,000 people (and no samuri to speak of I'm afraid.). There are also some artefacts from samuri. Shogunate life including a very beautiful lacquer ware lunch box. I also managed to take some photos of a wonderful woman wearing a kimono blitzing around with her own digital camera.

On the 5th floor there is a whole section detailing the system of wells and aqueducts under the city, an exhibit detailing the process involved in the making of those graceful and historic wood block prints, a reconstruction of a theatre and a little puppet show revealing some of the cool stage effects they invented – Shakespeare would have been jealous – and an exhibition revealing the changes which have ravaged and rebuilt Tokyo over the last century. It's all very interesting and displayed in a simple way that would probably have held my attention from about the age of 8. Especially if I had have had Mr. Fuji guiding me...

Free coin lockers, all very clean and in excellent working order and free umbrella holding areas as well. The entrance is a bit confusing, you come in via in inauspicious route along the buildings side then pass through an unassuming hall before having to go up to the 6th floor in the lift where the museum proper begins. I'd recommend a stop in the Japanese desert cafe by the entrance door – you can get coffee served with little tiny jugs of cream and colourful Japanese deserts made from asuki beans, pastes and curds, and a lot of things I couldn't recognise – but you can order from the plastic re-construction and you should be fine.

You need about 2 and a half hours but the Sumo Stadium and Museum is right next door.

Edo then Tokyo Museum

The permanent exhibition at the Edo Tokyo Museum follows the city’s growth from it’s founding as Edo, a small 15th Century fishing village to today’s Tokyo. The culture, politics and lifestyle of the city are examined at various points along the time line and outside influences and major events like wars and earthquakes are also dissected. One of the artefacts repeatedly mentioned in the guide books is a large scale replica of the Nihonbashi Bridge, other replicas and models make up a large proportion of the exhibits including a replica of Edo Castle and a miniature working model of a Kabuki Theatre. Western interest in geisha, pleasure quarters and warrior lore are also sated. There’s no problem with the language barrier here, with everything labelled in English.

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