I procrastinated posting this entry because this museum in Tokyo is so amazing that I took literally hundreds of photos and it was too daunting to go through them all. BUT! I am finally posting some of them. It’s not even close to all the photos I took, but it’s better this way anyway — you need to go to the museum and discover it for yourself.
The Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum (江戸東京たてもの園) is basically an outdoor museum consisting of historical buildings (mostly Showa-era) in which you can actually go inside and poke around. Many of them are real buildings that have been carefully moved to the museum grounds. I never see it recommended as a priority when visiting Tokyo, but I don’t know why because it’s great and uniquely Japanese. Even if you don’t think you’re interested in history, being able to walk through all the buildings is way more enjoyable than a regular museum.
The nearest station is Musashi-Koganei on the JR Chuo line, which makes it super convenient to visit if you’re going to the Ghibli Museum. (The Ghibli Museum is at Mitaka Station, which is only a couple stops away on the Chuo line.) It would be an excellent complement to the Ghibli Museum, since Hayao Miyazaki visited the Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum a lot when he was working on Spirited Away and was inspired by some of the buildings. (You’ll notice the similarities!)
I found it very interesting to wander through all the houses and buildings — the museum includes houses belonging to a variety of people, a shopping street full of stores, a photo studio, a police box, and a sento (public bath). The cool thing is that with all the details, you really get a sense of how people lived at the time.
As an extra bonus, this museum is surprisingly inexpensive for how awesome it is — the admission is only ￥400 ($4 CAD) for adults!
I have a sort of weird fascination/obsession with old Japanese advertising.
The upstairs is the studio.
From the the 1952 residence of Hachirouemon Mitsui.
In one of the farmhouse residences.
Me inside the Koide family house from 1925, designed by architect Sutemi Horiguchi.
A refined squat toilet.
This house was my favourite. I wish I could live here! It’s the house of famous Japanese architect Kunio Maekawa. It was built in 1942 but could easily be on the pages of a design magazine today.
UGH SO BEAUTIFUL.
I love the details.
Mike also wonders why we can’t live here.
A watch tower that was part of the Ueno fire department.
A koban (police box) from 1911.
Mike acts out his JR fantasies on this streetcar from 1962. (Here’s a photo of Hayao Miyazaki in front of it.)
Watch out for those killer bees. (No seriously, watch out for them.)
Part of the museum includes a very realistic old timey shopping street. You can wander freely into all the shops and buildings. These are bento boxes from the kitchenware store.
More kitchen stuff.
The sign says “Yamatoya Honten” and it’s a grocery store.
All your grocery needs.
Doesn’t this look like something out of a Miyazaki movie?
More old signs.
A flower shop.
The flower shop from the inside.
Heading inside the stationery store.
This stuff fascinates me.
Inside the soy sauce shop.
Have I mentioned that I love old Japanese packaging?
Is there a museum of Showa-era advertising? If not, someone should open one.
The Kikkoman logo hasn’t really changed.
You’ll fit right in with the surroundings if you wear your kimono.
Kodakara-yu, the sento that inspired the bath house in Spirited Away. It was built in 1929.
It’s a pretty classic example of a Japanese bath house.
Japanese bath houses always have fancy murals on the walls. (They usually include Mt. Fuji.)
Oh, just chilling in the bath.
A bar/izakaya called Kagiya.
The only thing missing is an ojisan bartender. And seriously, where can I buy one those Kikkoman signs?
The house of former Japanese prime minster, Takahashi Korekiyo was definitely inspiration for Spirited Away!
I am standing where Hayao Miyazaki once stood.
The Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum is probably one of my favourite “touristy” things I’ve ever done in Tokyo. It’s just really cool. For more info on visiting, check out their English website.