Translated by Shinji Takaramura
Edo-Tokyo Open-Air Architectural Museum: From History To Ghibli
Written by Natsumi Endo
The Edo-Tokyo Open-air Architectural Museum is a unique facility, displaying various works of architecture relocated from all over Tokyo.
Skyscrapers line up in Shinjuku, a town which also has a nostalgic atmosphere in its hidden back alleys. Marunouchi is a business district with rows of glass-clad office buildings. Although Tokyo boasts a wide variety of buildings, there are quite a few that have faded away with the times.
This article is about the Edo-Tokyo Open-air Architectural Museum, which preserves and also displays various works of architecture relocated from all over Tokyo. At this unique open-air museum, visitors can travel through the past and the present of Tokyo.
Visitor Center: the Museum Gate
The Visitor Center (former Kokaden Palace) is the gateway to the museum. It is a historic building originally built for the ceremonies held at the Imperial Palace in 1940, and was relocated to the present site in 1941.
This is also a reception and information center, introducing the history of Edo and Tokyo. From the center's exhibitions, visitors can also learn about the history and culture of the Musashino area, where the museum is located. This is the perfect introduction to the museum, with the museum shop and cafe furnished inside.
The Three Zones
The size of the museum is approximately seven hectares, and it is divided into three zones: Center Zone,East Zone, and West Zone.
The Center Zone includes various Japanese-style buildings such as the Visitor Center (the former Kokaden Palace), House of Korekiyo Takahashi and Kaisuian.
House of Korekiyo Takahashi
Kaisuian (Tea Arbor)
In the East Zone, visitors can feel the friendly shitamachi atmosphere (*1), as shops, public bathhouses and taverns built from the Edo to the Showa Period are displayed. The photograph shows an old bar named Kagiya.
*1: Shitamachi refers to the eastern Tokyo area, especially near Tokyo Bay.
Kodakara-yu (Public Bathhouse)
Hanaichi (Flower Shop)
In the West Zone, a wide variety of architectural styles are displayed, from houses built in the Edo Period to modern architecture. The house of the prominent Japanese architect, Kunio Mayekawa, can be seen in the photograph.
House of Kunio Mayekawa (Interior)
House of George de Lalande
The three zones are all different, so it might be fun to look for your favorite building.
The World of Studio Ghibli
There are various buildings in this museum, and it is said that some of them are portrayed in the movie Spirited Away, made by the Japanese animation company Studio Ghibli.
Shitamachi Street, which leads to the public bathhouse Kodakara-yu, reminds visitors of the spirit world that Chihiro, the heroine of the movie, wandered into.
The interior of the former stationery shop Takei Sanshodo looks a lot like the workshop of Kamaji, who helps Chihiro. While browsing the museum, visitors may find other buildings which look familiar.
It might be fun to recall the buildings portrayed in the movie while visiting this museum.
Five Minute Bus Ride from Musashi-Koganei Station
Musashi-Koganei Station on the JR Chuo Line is the nearest train station to the museum.
Access from Musashi-Koganei Station
1. Take the Seibu Bus from bus depot no. 2 or no. 3, located at the Kitaguchi (north entrance) of JR Musashi-Koganei Station.
2. Get off at the Koganeikoen Nishiguchi bus stop. It is a five minute walk to the museum.
Edo-Tokyo Open-air Architectural Museum is located inside an expansive park, and it is easy to access from the urban areas. Making a visit may turn out to be a fun event.