As I'm a big fan of Tokyo, I love the Edo-Tokyo Museum. It covers many hundreds of years of the city`s history, from when Ieyasu Tokugawa entered what was a small fishing village and made it the seat of his power, up to it becoming an economic powerhouse in the late twentieth century. If you are a fan of the city, it is a must see.
While you walk to the building from the station, you`ll notice the unique architecture. It`s very distinctive. If you can imagine one of Japan's old elevated grain storehouses with a futuristic feel to it. Some people say it looks like a giant Gundam robot.
Buy your ticket and head up to the sixth floor. The entrance gets everything off to a great start. As soon as you enter you'll cross the famous Nihonbashi (Nihon Bridge). Under it is another big replica, the Nakamura-za kabuki theatre. Move in and you’ll have two zones to explore.
One is the Edo Zone. This area deals with the history of the city from medieval times up to the early modern. Being a big fan of Japanese history, I have to admit that I favour this one as I love the Tokugawa period. It has everything the Japanese history lover needs: swords, armour, replicas of houses, boats, photographs, scale models, bookshops and incredibly detailed dioramas with great models. Everything in this zone is very well presented and absolutely perfect. The dioramas even have binoculars available for you to see even the smallest items in them.
The other zone is for Tokyo. It is also filled with great displays, these show the development of the city. They go into great detail about the early and middle parts of the twentieth century. The displays cover events such as World War 2, construction, the 1964 Olympics, introduction of cultures from overseas as well social change. For me, personally, the exhibits from the 1990s were really interesting. It was fun seeing stuff from those times when I when I first arrived in the country. There are old computers, games, school uniforms. Really great stuff and they brought back some great memories.
You can also see special exhibits. These change every few months and display a variety of subjects like ghosts, history, art, literature and even weapons from Japan's medieval times. This does require an extra ticket, but they are worth it (in my opinion).
If you need help finding your way through the exhibits in a little more detail you can book a volunteer guide. The languages available are English, Chinese, French, German, Korean, Spanish and Russian. However, due to their limited number it would be a good idea to book a guide before you actually visit. To be honest, I haven't done a full tour with them, but I have seen them working and they seem very knowledgeable. If you like you can also rent an audio headset. You can pick them up at the ticket counter on the first floor and pay a (refundable) deposit.
With so much on display, the Edo-Tokyo museum is a great place to visit and you could spend many, many hours there learning about the city's history. If you want to get more detailed information about the museum please look at its website here.
How to get to the Edo-Tokyo Museum?
The museum is very close to Ryogoku station which is on the JR Sobu line and is visible from the station. If you use the Oedo line, leave that station (also named Ryokgoku) via the A3 or A4 exits. Here is a Google map to help you:
How much is admission?
General admission to the Permanent Exhibition is 600 yen. The Permanent and the Special Exhibitions together cost 1520 yen.
The Edo-Tokyo Museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 9:30am to 5:30pm, but on Saturdays is open till 7:30pm. You can buy tickets up till 30 minutes before closing. If there is a public holiday on a Monday, the museum will be open and then closed the following day.
The museum is closed over New Years from December 25 to January 1.
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