As I'm a big fan of Tokyo, I love the Edo-Tokyo museum. The museum 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 like Tokyo, this museum is a must see place.
As you walk to the building from the station, you`ll definitely notice the unique architecture. It`s a very distinctive building, designed like one of Japan's old elevated grain storehouses, but at the same time it has a futuristic feel to it, like one of those giant Gundam robots. And it is big, really big.
Buy your ticket and head up to the sixth floor. As soon as you enter I think you'll be suitably impressed. Almost right in front of you will be a replica of the famous Nihonbashi (Nihon Bridge) that will definitely get your attention. And just under it is another big replica, the Nakamura-za kabuki theatre. There are thousands of items on display from little medicine boxes up to katanas, amour and even some of the old Japanese toilets.
The museum is separated into two zones, Edo and Tokyo, divided by the Nihonbashi bridge. Being a big fan of Japanese history, I have to admit that I favour the Edo zone (as I love the Tokugawa period). It really has everything the Japanese history lover needs: swords, armour, replicas of houses, boats, photographs, scale models, bookshops and incredibly detailed dioramas with great models were built with so much attention to detail. 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 Tokyo zone is also filled with great displays that 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 that have affected Tokyo, such as World War 2, architecture, 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.
The museum also has an area for special exhibits. These change every few months and you can see things from a variety of subjects like ghosts in Japanese history, art, literature and even weapons from Japan's medieval times. You'll need to buy an extra ticket for these, but it will be worth it.
If you want to learn about 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 the 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 you can see it from the station. If you use, use the Oedo line and leave the station 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 Exhibition and the Special Exhibition cost 1520 yen.
The Edo-Tokyo Museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 9:30am to 5:30pm, but on Saturdays open until 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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Gotokuji temple - the home of Japan's maneki neko (beckoning cats)
Japan Open-Air Folk House Museum - learn a little about old Japanese houses
Kyu-Shiba-rikyu Gardens - a very small park in Tokyo, but said to be one of the most beautiful
Omiya Hachiman - one of Tokyo's local shrines