The Edo Tokyo Museum in the Sumida/Ryogoku area of Tokyo was one of the biggest reasons of me travelling to Japan for the first time ever in 2006. Not so much because I’m a huge museum fan (I definitely love museums, but it wouldn’t be a sole reason of me travelling somewhere…), but because of the link it has with my father.
In short, as an archaeologist and photographer of the city of Amsterdam, my father used to travel all over the place to make sure collections of artifacts would make it to other museums in one piece. Well, at least in as many pieces as they already were before shipping. On location, he would oversee the unboxing, take photos and notes on the state of the artifacts upon arrival and make sure the museum showcased the items properly.
One of his favourite exchanges was with the Edo Tokyo Museum in Japan for a couple of consecutive years. He could tell you many stories on how he accelerated the delicate inventory of the Japanese curators (bowing to all the artifacts and thanking them for their save arrival, pretty much… and that with over 300 pieces in a single collection) from a planned 5 days to about one afternoon or something like that, so he could do more sightseeing himself, haha.
Or how he would simply get off the train two stops before his actual destination and made his way over there on foot, navigating the tiny back-alleys of Tokyo and meeting many interesting people along the way. He became good friends with the then director of the museum, and for years we had him stay at our home in the Netherlands whenever he made the trip over there.
So when I decided to visit Tokyo as a stop-over to my first world trip in 2006, of course I had to visit the museum! When I visited Tokyo with my brother in 2008, I visited again… and when Nick and I were in Tokyo in 2016… of course I couldn’t skip this little tradition either.
In this short review an overview of what you can expect in the museum, I hope you enjoy it and would love to hear it if you’ve visited it as well!
Edo Tokyo Museum Review
When you approach the building, you can see it’s quite striking in design. Architect Kiyonori Kikutake created a building with many levels and exhibition spaces and the biggest hall is right when you enter the permanent exhibition.
Apparently, the shape of the building is modeled after an old storehouse in the so-called ‘kurazukuri’style.
In the permanent exhibition, you can learn all about the EDO area of Tokyo throughout the years and you enter by crossing the full-sized Nihonbashi Bridge that used to exist in Tokyo. Then you’re ready to really travel back in time!
The Permanent exhibition takes you from the earliest time of the city (Edo) to Tokyo today. You can learn all about the life of the townspeople, commerce and villages linked with Edo, Tokyo in the age of ‘civilization and enlightenment’, Tokyo and the industrial revolution, Tokyo and the Greak Kanto earthquake and modern Tokyo around the war and current times.
There are some fascinating objects on display:
One of the earliest documents in which Tokyo is mentioned
Would love that in my own house!
Ahh… a bit of Dutch history on display!
The rise of the Salary Men
Modern Dress for the Modern Japanese Woman
A MINIATURE WORLD
In the exhibition, you’ll find many miniature versions of buildings, people and even complete parts of the city! It’s quite detailed and you can spend hours looking at the many scenes being played out:
Besides miniatures, the thing I liked most about this museum are the many life-sized models of houses you can have a peek in. You can see people working, living and really get a sense of what life must have been like!
What the Japanese do best: creating life-like looking plastic food
Learn all about the impressive art of woodblock printing
Besides looking, the Edo Tokyo Museum encourages visitors to touch a lot of items as well! Here’s a couple of them:
Now don’t get carried away! (Actually, you can!)
I made both my brother and Nick (top of page) do it :D
Nick’s favourite bike :)
The Edo Tokyo museum is definitely one of my favourite museums in Japan, as it’s so extensive and comprehensive. You could easily spend half a day here! With a lot of interactive exhibitions, this museum is suited for both adults as kids and there are English signs as well. If you’re interested in learning a bit more about the history of Tokyo and would like to understand more about the culture, architecture and other elements of this fascinating city, then a visit to the museum is a must!
Name Museum: Edo-Tokyo Museum
Location: 1 Chome-4-1 Yokoami, Sumida, Tokyo 130-0015, Japan
Opening Hours: Monday: Closed, Tue-Fri & Sun: 09:30–17:00, Sat: 09:30–19:00
Admission: 600 Yen, extra for special exhibitions
PLEASE NOTE: The museum will be closed for renovation from October 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018
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