Designed by the renowned architect Kikutake Kiyonori, the Edo-Tokyo Museum (江戸東京博物館) was modelled after traditional stilted warehouses of the kurazukuri (蔵造り) type. It is located in Ryōgoku, Sumida-ku, right next to the Ryōgoku Kokugikan (両国国技館, Sumo Hall) and opened on 28 March 1993. The museum measures 62.2 metres at its peak. It has a floor space of some 30,000 square metres and a permanent exhibition on the history of Edo (江戸) from its foundation over 450 years ago, when it was just a little harbour town, to modern-day Tokyo.
The museum displays original and replicated exhibits, as well as scale models of old quarters and buildings, such as the area around Ryōgoku Bridge, the Mitsui Gofukuya (呉服屋, kimono shop) in Nihonbashi, the “Ginza Bricktown” of the 1880s and the Ryōunkaku (凌雲閣), Japan’s first western-style skyscraper in Asakusa, which was destroyed in the Great Kantō earthquake and subsequently demolished, among many others.
Visitors enter the museum on the sixth floor, crossing a replica of the wooden Nihonbashi Bridge from 1590. The Edo Zone of the museum focuses on the daily life of commoners, their cultural activities and lifestyle. The Tokyo Zone on the fifth floor depicts Tokyo after the Meiji Restoration and highlights the Western influence as well as the rapid modernisation of Japan’s capital. Particular attention is paid to the industrial revolution, the Great Kantō earthquake of 1923 and the devastating B-29 air raids of 1945, the worst one of which on 10 March 1945 with incendiary bombs killed some 100,000 people and destroyed about 25 per cent of the city.
Life-size exhibits include historical mailboxes, public telephones, traditional row houses (長屋 nagaya), “night soil pails” (肥桶, koe-oke), palanquins, bicycles, cars and rickshaws, as well as household articles and electrical appliances.
The Edo-Tokyo Open-Air Architectural Museum (江戸東京たてもの園 Edo Tōkyō Tatemono En) is an outdoor municipal museum located in Koganei Park, Tokyo, displaying relocated or reconstructed buildings from the Edo Period to the postwar era.
Visiting hours and admission:
Sunday-Friday 09:30 – 17:30, Saturday 09:30 – 19:30 (latest entry 30 minutes before closing); closed on Mondays (when Monday is a holiday, the next working day) except during Sumo Championships in Kokugikan, year-end and January 1.
Admission: 600 円 (adults), 480 円 (university students), 300 円 (junior and high school students, senior citizens over 65). Special discounts are available for groups of over 20 visitors.
Location and access:
1-4-1 Yokoami, Sumida-ku, Tokyo 130-0015 – 〒130-0015 東京都墨田区横網１丁目４−１
By train: JR Sobu Line, seven minutes from Ryōgoku Station West Exit
By Metro: Oedo Line, one minute from Ryogoku Station A3 or A4 Exit.
Inside the Edo-Tokyo Museum
Hikeshi (火消), Edo-era firefighters
Scale model of Mitsui Gofukuya (呉服屋)
Scale model of eastern Ryōgoku Bridge
Edo-era row house (長屋 nagaya)