Following the worm signs designed by Studio Ghibli,we walk into the Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum, it’s like taking a journey through time to several periods of Tokyo. The museum exhibits more than thirty historic buildings – from elevated cottages in the Edo period to western-style houses in the Meiji period. The buildings were relocated or reconstructed here from across Tokyo, they preserve chapters of Tokyo’s urban redevelopment, a visit to the museum is a tour through Tokyo during the period of the Tokugawa shoguns. It allows us to take a peek into several periods of the architectural history and life in Tokyo.
Journey to the Edo-Tokyo Open Air Museum
After an-hour’s traffic jam on the bus, and a roundabout way around the park with a Japanese college student who had the same destination as us, we were extremely starved while arriving the museum, we went straight to De Lalande where it served a wonderful Japanese-style Western cuisine. The meal was awesome, and the experience of sitting in the house dated back to the late 19 century with timber framed architecture and baroque interior was a very special one.
After the meal, we didn’t miss the thatched cottages next to De Lalande, it was one of the buildings we loved most, they had guides explaining the ideas of the house in English, so we followed the house receptionists and sat in vajrasana around the table, enjoyed the hot tea, and listened to the guides explaining the idea of the building. It was belonged to the counselors in Tokugawan period, and the design was the “living room-centered style”, the hostess should sit near the kitchen side to serve the guests and family, people stored hot rice in the bamboo baskets and kept the house warm in traditional ways, it was a nice talk and a detailed guide.
There were so many historic buildings and stuff at the museum. From ordinary houses, western style houses with Japanese gardens to photo studio. And there was a Shitamachi shopping street of a big bath house, a traditional bar, a stationary store and lots more, all of them were from Edo, Meiji and shōwa period. There were actual stuff in the buildings which you would expect to see in a Japanese store, Mt. Fuji paintings in the bath house, bottles of sake in the bar and traditional wooden stationary shelves. The street was full of inspiration, it could be a great movie set, and it was the model of the animated film: Spirited Away produced by studio ghibli.
It was a great afternoon in the museum, and I would say an afternoon is never enough to explore the museum to its entirety. The museum gives a real sense of how Japanese lived in the previous era which we will never get a chance to see in 21 century. If you are interested in history and architecture, will stay in Tokyo for more than five days, you should put the Architectural museum on your “must see" list.
You can see the Edo-Tokyo Open-Air Architectural Museum`s website here.
The museum is a 5 minute walk through the Koganei Park from Koganei-koen Nishi-guchi or Koganei-koen Nishi-guchi bus stop.
Take either the Kanto bus for Mitaka Station at platform No.4 near the north exit of Musashi-Koganei Station or Seibu bus for Musashi-Koganei Station, and get off at Koganei-koen Nishi-guchi(小金井公園西口).