Samurai, Kabuki, Sushi. Let’s experience old Tokyo at the Edo-Tokyo Museum!【江戸東京博物館】

Samurai (侍), Geisha(芸者), Ukiyo-e(浮世絵), and Kabuki(歌舞伎). You might be familiar with some of these Japanese words before visiting Japan. However, do you know how these were popular in Edo city (old Tokyo), and the life style of the Edo people?

2016-12-21   Culture, Tokyo,

001EDOHAKU


【CONTENTS】
Let’s find and experience the last samurai governed society, Edo!
Cross the Bridge and Get to the merchant district.
How was the today’s Imperial Palace area? The Edo castle
The downtown Nagaya (長屋) apartment area where the ordinary people lived
Try the Edo tools!
At the last, the life-size Kabuki theater!
What’s next…

Today’s Tokyo is a modern and developed city, and you may find it difficult to find its old-world traditions. You’ll see fewer people wearing Kinomo clothing, and you’ll never see anyone wearing Japanese swords.

The buildings in Tokyo city centre are made of concrete. You might be discouraged, because you probably wont find scenes that you have seen in Japanese films and videos. Japanese architecture was traditionally made from wood and was difficult to preserve after natural disasters and war…

Do not give up on your quest to find and experience old time Tokyo, Edo(江戸)!

Let’s find and experience the last samurai governed society, Edo!

002MarchantDistrict

The Edo Tokyo museum gives you real-life scale models of Edo (the period of the last samurai governed society in our history). The museum is located in the Ryogoku area, near the Tokyo Sky Tree Tower and Sumo Stadium (Kokugikan).

The huge fort-like building holds a lot of secret Edo culture. It was designed to be the same height as the Edo castle.

003MUSEUM

Let’s take a tour of Edo city with Alexandre, a guy from Portugal, and the museum volunteer tour guide, Yamaguchi-san.

004GUIDE

Yamaguchi-san asked Alex about Edo to before traveling back in time to Edo city.

(General information)The Edo period was one of the most culturally flourishing eras from the beginning of the 17th century to the middle of the 19th century. The governor at the time strictly prohibited international trade, and it is said that the Japanese created their own unique culture.

Yamaguchi-san also said, the Daimyo (大名:the feudal load of the outer Edo areas) was forced to come and visit the Tokugawa Shogun (将軍:Top Samurai of Ancient Japan) every three years and as a result, the cultures from the different provinces influenced each other.

Visitors to the museum cross the Nihon-Bashi(日本橋) that bridges modern Tokyo and the old Edo world.

Cross the Bridge and Get to the merchant district.

005NIHONBASHI

The Nihon-Bashi Bridge is the starting point of an adventure!

A: Was this bridge made during the Edo period?
Y: No, this is replica, but is the same size as the bridge from the Edo period and was built with the same techniques of the time.
A: So, I am safe!

They arrive at the Edo merchant district.

006MINITURE_NIHONBAS

007GUIDE

Y: See, there is a person wearing a sword, he is Samurai. The one who has baskets is a vender…

The dolls on the miniature diorama are incredibly well crafted. Everyone’s role in society is demonstrated here. I can’t tell you how awesome this is! Please visit!

008BINOCULARS
Available binoculars are used to see the small details of the diorama. (The museum is so proud of their displays)

A: Is this the governor’s house? (Pointing a large and gorgeous house at the merchant district)
Y: No, that’s too small. It’s coming up next…”

How was the today’s Imperial Palace area?【The Edo castle】

010GUIDE

Y: This is the Edo Castle (江戸城). Three layered water canals and several gates show that the castle was on high alert. The two outer water canals were reclaimed and became avenues.

the Edo castle
the Edo castle

Alex had explored the Imperial Palace area during the Sanno Matsuri (山王祭). He looked at a map of Tokyo city and compared it with the diorama. It was easy for him to imagine what the area was like in the past.

He was amazed with the huge meeting room for Edo Shogunate. The small diorama shows their 500 tatami mats, and its extravagance cannot be compared to the merchant properties.

012PHOTO
You can photograph most of the objects.
013GATE
The Daimyo house.

014AUTHENTIC

Y: A carriage for a princess. It shows how powerful the bride’s family was. This is a real age-old object.

The museum staff told us the museum is unique in that, there is a mixture of authentic historical objects and detailed crafted replicas.

The downtown Nagaya (長屋) apartment area where the ordinary people lived

015NAGAYA

An life-size downtown Edo district is re-constructed. You can see the daily lives of Edo locals. They found a small shrine.

016SHRINE
The small shrine

Y: The red-gate will drive out evil. You can wish for whatever you want here.

You can see how Edo people often prayed to deities with the small shrine being located next to their houses.

A: Is this a sliding door?
Y: Yes.
A: It is quite different from our culture. In Europe, doors usually open back and forward.

The door is made of Japanese Paper (和紙) and wood. We know the paper is very strong… it’s difficult for foreigners to understand this.

Woodblock printing became popular during the Edo period. It is beneficial for ordinary people to quickly access various information.

018RANKINSHEET
Example of a ranking sheet

Y: Here is the ranking sheet for the restaurant, Michelin Guide. Edo people were very fascinated by the ranking of various things!

The famous Ukiyo-e (浮世絵) woodblock printing technique was also mastered by some famous artists during this time.

019UKIYOE

The colorful printings of famous Kabuki stars and Sumo wrestlers were sold to ordinary people. It must’ve been a great opportunity for those who could not afford to see their performances.

020SHOP

Sushi was sold at food stalls during the Edo period. The size is almost two times larger than today’s sushi.

021SUSHI

Yamaguchi-san pointed out Unagi-Sushi and strongly recommended that Alex try Conger-eel (あなご) during his stay in Japan.

Try the Edo tools!

022EXPERIENCE

The beauty of the Edo Tokyo Museum is that; you are able to experience using Edo period tools. Do not hesitate to try!

023EXPERIENCE

If you wear a Kimono and visit this museum, you might feel like you’re a citizen of Edo city.

At the last, the life-size Kabuki theater

Alex explored and enjoyed more Edo exhibitions including a Kabuki perfomance, and eventually got to see a real-size Nakamuraza Kabuki theater (芝居小屋).

024EXPERIENCE

A: The miniature architecture is amazing. I was able to see the small details of the structures. The most impressive site at the museum was the Kabuki theater at the last part of the Edo period exhibition. The life-sized scale of the buildings makes me feel as if I am really there.

025PLAYHOUSE

The museum is so large that it is impossible to show everything in this article. Please visit and experience the Edo period atmosphere for yourself. It’s full of excitement!

We thank Alex, Yamaguchi-san, and all the Museum staff for their kind cooperation!

【The Voluntary Guide Desk】
Just next to the entrance on the 6th floor.

026VOLUNTEERS

The volunteer tour guides offer 7 different foreign languages upon request. Please check here for more information: www.edo-tokyo-museum.or.jp/en/information/
Currently, there are many requests by visitors, so an advanced reservation is recommended.

【Audio Guide】
An audio guide device is also available for 1000 yen (refundable).

What’s next…

After the interview, Alex told me he is going to visit the Sumo Museum at Ryogoku Kokugikan and the Asakusa district. I thought it was a good choice, because Ryogoku and Asakusa are near each other on the opposite sides of the Sumida River.

027SUMIDA

We also recommend exploring the Sumida ward where there are more museums and attractions.
Sumo: Japanese wrestling with a real fighting spirit.
Energy food for Sumo wrestlers, Chanko-Nabe (includes restaurant info)【Ryogoku】
Experience traditional Japanese crafts near the Tokyo Sky Tree Tower! 5 shops and studios, including workshop information
3 recommended photo locations for the “Tokyo Sky Tree”, the tallest building in Japan!

Map

1-4-1 Yokoami, Sumida-ku, Tokyo

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AUTHOR

Kumo

Writer / Translator

I love travelling and tourists! Where to next? Wherever it is, I hope to find a good onsen (hot spring bath), delicious drinks, and friendly people. I enjoy telling Japanese stories in English, and it fills my life with plenty of learning opportunities!

Information

Address 1-4-1 Yokoami, Sumida-ku, Tokyo 130-0015
Hours 9:30 - 17:30 (Saturday:9:30 - 19:30)
Price General: 600
For other admission fees, please check
https://www.edo-tokyo-museum.or.jp/en/information/
Close Mondays
When a national holiday or its substitute falls on a Monday, the Museum is OPEN, and is closed on the following day.
Access ・3-minute walk from West Exit of Ryogoku Station, JR Sobu Line
・1-minute walk from A4 Exit of Ryogoku Station (Edo-Tokyo Hakubutsukan-mae), Toei Subway Oedo Line
Phone +81-3-3626-9974
Language Japanese
English
Website http://www.edo-tokyo-museum.or.jp/en
(The Permanent Exhibition)