Translated by Shinji Takaramura
Experience The Old Capital: Edo-Tokyo Museum, Ryōgoku
Renovated in the spring of 2015, the Edo-Tokyo Museum, is the best place to experience the culture of both Edo and Tokyo.
Written by MATCHA
The Ryōgoku area in Tokyo is famous for sumō; here you can often see the rikishi (sumō wrestlers) walking around in the neighborhood. A unique-looking museum, the Edo-Tokyo Hakubutsukan, also known as Edo-Haku, is located here.
It is a seven-storied museum. The first floor hosts special exhibition, while its permanent exhibitions are displayed on the fifth and sixth floors. With its entertaining exhibitions, it may change your image of a museum completely.
We focused on the permanent exhibition hall, which was renovated in the spring of 2015.
This uncommon building is the Edo-Tokyo Museum.
The entrance for the permanent exhibitions is located on the third floor, which can be reached by the stairs. The entrance for the special exhibition is located on the first floor.
The tickets can be bought at the counters on the first and third floors.
From the third floor, take the escalator to the sixth-floor entrance. You will arrive at the exhibition room, which is divided into the Edo Zone (*1) and the Tokyo Zone.
The following article is about the Edo Zone, where the visitors can learn about life in the Edo period.
*1 Edo: the old name for Tokyo.
The Exact-Size Replica of Nihombashi
The Replica of Nihombashi
An eye-catching wooden bridge welcomes the visitors. This is the replica of the Nihombashi Bridge, which was built in the Edo period.
There is a financial district called Nihombashi, which is about 15 minutes by train from Ryōgoku, and that name comes from the bridge.
The original Nihombashi Bridge was 51 meters in length. Visitors can walk on this replica, which is half the original length. The current Nihombashi, a stone-built and arch-shaped bridge, is said to be the 20th* generation.
*Some records indicate that the current bridge is the 19th generation.
The Replica of Nakamura-za Kabuki Theater
Visitors can enjoy the façade of the Kabuki theater Nakamura-za from the bridge, and get the sense that they have traveled back in time to the Edo period.
Delicate Miniature Dolls
Edo-Haku (the nickname of the institution, derived from its Japanese name) re-creates the lives of the people in the Edo Period, by using miniature dolls.
Each doll is delicately made, and you can easily imagine how the people of the day lived. Details such as the interior of the houses and the design patterns of kimonos are intricately re-created, so it's a joy to watch.
Visitors can also enjoy a close-up view, by using the installed binoculars.
Everyday scenes, such as the hawkers selling fish, housewives exchanging gossip and children running around, can be appreciated here.
This is the Edo head office of Mitsui Echigoya, a gofukuya (clothing store), showing that the business is doing well.
Nihombashi prospered as a district located beside a thoroughfare, and many business ventures, such as the Echigoya, gathered here. Echigoya tranformed into the modern department store Mitsukoshi, and its head office is still located at Nihombashi.
Experience the Edo Life
Edo-Haku is full of interactive exhibitions.
This is a model of the stage set for Yotsuya Kaidan, a famous Japanese horror story. The staff will explain the play to the visitors, along with the mechanical dolls.
This display shows the land-use in the Edo period, and can be operated by a touch screen.
There used to be a castle called Edo-jō in Edo, and its longest corridor was named Matsu-no-rōka (the corridor of pine). This exhibition allows the visitors to experience its length, which feels endless!
This is an exact-size model of a kago (palanquin), used by the daimyō. Visitor can sit inside, and take pictures.
This is a matoi, a flag used by the hikeshi (firefighters). It weighs 15 kilograms, so it's difficult to hold.
Exact-Size Models: A Walk Through the Edo Period
The following are the exact-size models which helps the visitors understand the details, such as clothing, food and housing, in the Edo period.
You can see how large the model is, compared to the hand.
These are replicas of stalls selling sushi and soba.
The general populace in the Edo period used these kind of stalls for snacks, as it was the fast food of the day. The size of the sushi at the time was much bigger than current one sushi is, and the visitors can easily see the difference, thanks to these exact-size models.
*Please note that the visitors are not allowed to touch the sushi models.
This display shows how the Nishiki-e (a colored woodblock print, a variation of Ukiyo-e) was made. The Nishiki-e of Kabuki actors were sold at ezōshiya, which is now called a bookstore.
This is a reproduction of the stage for the Edo Kabuki Sukeroku. Visitors can listen to the music and famous lines from the play by pushing a button, and appreciate the Kabuki atmosphere.
When you think of museums, you tend to image rows of glass cases.
But the Edo-Tokyo Museum overturns that kind of image, and the visitors can experience the authentic Edo-Tokyo atmosphere. Thanks to the various exhibitions, three hours passed in no time for the MATCHA staff.
The Nakamura-za inside the museum is used as a yose (*2) where seasonal traditional performances of many kinds may be enjoyed. The visitors can take a quick look-around, or they can take time to enjoy the interactive exhibitions. So plan a visit to the Edo-Tokyo Museum, where you can learn about Tokyo's history and culture.
*2 Yose: a theater for traditional Japanese performing arts.
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Address: Tokyo, Sumida, Yokozuna 1-4-1
Hours: weekdays 9:00-17:30, Saturdays 9:00-19:30 (last entry 30 minutes before closing)
Closed: Mondays, Year-End and New Year Holidays (if Monday is a national holiday, closed on Tuesday)
Credit Cards: -
Other Languages: Permanent exhibition voice guidance in Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean. The volunteer guides for the permanent exhibitions also speak the four languages.
Nearest Station: Ryōgoku Station (両国駅) JR Line, Toei Subway Oedo Line
Access: 3 minute walk from west exit, 7 minute walk from east exit of JR Ryōgoku Station; 1 minute walk from A3/A4 exit of Toei Subway Ryōgoku Station
Admission:Adults 600 yen, Over 65 300 yen, University 480 yen, J/S High 300 yen (students in Tokyo free), elementary & under free
Telephone: +81-3-3626-9974 (9:00-17:30)
Website: Edo-Tokyo Museum