Translated by Shinji Takaramura
Japan's Modern History At A Glance - Museum Of The Meiji Restoration
The Museum of the Meiji Restoration in Kagoshima City, is a unique facility, dedicated to the history of Japan from the late Edo Period to the early Meiji Period, the time when Japan took the direction toward becoming a modern state.
Written by Natsumi Endo
Japan has over 2000 years of history, and each major period has a name - for example, the Edo Period was the time when urban culture flourished, while the Meiji Period was the era when Western culture was introduced in Japan. History lovers from abroad may have heard about these eras. This article is about the Museum of the Meiji Restoration, located in one of the cities that played a major role in Japanese history, Kagoshima Prefecture. The museum shows in detail how Japan changed dramatically from the end of Edo Period to the early Meiji Period, and is a must-see spot for history lovers. Read also: Japanese Encylopedia: Edo Jidai (Edo Period) Japanese Encylopedia: Meiji Period
Kagoshima Prefecture - From the End of Edo to Early Meiji Period
At the end of the Edo period, also called Bakumatsu jidai ("the end of the military government"), Japan was in turmoil. In 1868, the shogunal government in Edo (present day Tokyo), which governed Japan at the time, was removed, and the Meiji Government took over. This revolution, from the demise of the military government to the rise of the Meiji government, is called the Meiji Restoration. Kagoshima Prefecture, which was called "Satsuma province" at the time, played a major role in the revolution. Japan was able to modernize itself ahead of other countries in Asia, and in that process, Kagoshima Prefecture (Satuma province) took an active role in the Restoration. This museum displays the reasons behind that transformation.
Kagoshima Prefecture in the Modern Era
At the Museum of the Meiji Restoration, there are various displays, such as ship models and file films, not to mention documents. Visitors can learn about Kagoshima from the end of the Edo period to the Meiji Restoration, and also about its heroes, in detail. Let's take a look.
The title of this section is "Satsuma Watching the World". It has a large model of a ship, and describes the progressive, modern industries that Satsuma province raised. The ship is Shōhei-maru, one of the first western-style warships in Japan. The Edo military government regarded Satsuma's shipbuilding technology and this ship's abilities highly. Shōhei-maru was later presented to the military government, and was actually used until the early Meiji Period.
This is the "Meiji Restoration Learning Zone." Visitors can gain comprehensive knowledge about Japan and Kagoshima during those times, by browsing documents and watching short films. The displays also show the sightseeing spots in Kagoshima during those times, so visitors can also gather information about sightseeing and historic sites.
Meiji Restoration Experience Hall
Of all the various displays in this museum, visitors should take a look at the Meiji Restoration Experience Hall. In this hall visitors can watch a 25-minutes drama performed by robot models of the Kagoshima dignitaries. There are two episodes. "The Road to Restoration" describes the history of the Satsuma province, from the end of Edo period to the Meiji Restoration. "Satsuma Students, Go West" is about the young citizens of the Satsuma province who went to study abroad in England. The hall offers a great view, and the drama, supported by the sound, image and lighting, makes the visitors feel as if they are thrown back in history. This is a must-see exhibition.
After The Visit, Go Sightseeing in Kagoshima City
Kajiya-chō, Kagoshima city, where the museum is located, is famous as the birthplace of many dignitaries of Kagoshima. There is a monument nearby, within a few minutes walking distance from the museum. After enjoying the museum, take a walk, and you might be able to experience Kagoshima of the old days. If you're interested in Japanese history, the Museum of the Meiji Restoration in Kagoshima is worth a visit.
Museum of the Meiji Restoration
Address: Kagoshima, Kajiya-chō 23-1
Business Hours: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.* *The entrance closes at 4:30 p.m.
Fixed Holidays: The are no fixed holidays.
Credit Cards: Not Accepted
Language: A voice guidance app for Japanese, English, Korean and Chinese can be downloaded from the official site.
Menus/Pamphlets in Other Languages: English, Korean and Chinese
Nearest Stations: JR Kagoshima Chūo Station (鹿児島中央駅)
Access: 8-minute walk from the JR Kagoshima Chūo Station.
Admission: Adults (from High School Students and up)/ 300 yen Junior High and Elementary School Students/ 150 yen
Website/Homepage: Museum of the Meiji Restoration (Japanese text, with a link to English documents.)