Edo Tokyo Museum | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Edo Tokyo Museum

Sumida, Tokyo, Japan

Sarah Roller

24 Nov 2020

About Edo Tokyo Museum

The Edo Tokyo Museum in Tokyo in Japan chronicles the history of the city, which was originally known as Edo.

History of the Edo Tokyo Museum

The city of Edo first appeared around the 11th century, and became effectively the de facto capital of Japan from 1603. Under the Tokugawa shogunate, Edo became one of the largest cities in the world – this period of Japanese history is widely known as the Edo Period. In 1868, following the Meiji Restoration, Edo was renamed Tokyo and the imperial capital (previously in Kyoto) was relocated here. The name Tokyo literally translates as ‘eastern capital’.

The museum was created to preserve and tell the history of Edo and Tokyo and preserve parts of their cultural heritage. Designed by the architect Kiyonori Kikutake, the building is based on traditional rice storehouses found across Japan, and contains 8 floors. The 7th floor is a library containing over 500,000 texts and cutural items relating to Edo-Tokyo. At 62m tall, the museum is purposefully the same height as the keep was at the 17th century Edo-jo.

Edo Tokyo Museum today

The museum has an absolute wealth of information: too much for one visit, and to be honest, half a day in here is an information overload. The English-speaking guides are an excellent resource to make us of: they’re extremely nice, informative and a really good way of digesting some of Edo / Tokyo’s vast history. You’ll need to reserve one in advance, or you can chance your luck on the day.

There is a decent amount of English signage: temporary exhibitions tend to be lacking, so you might want to give them a miss unless it’s on a subject you’re fascinated by. Edo and Tokyo are divided into relatively clear/separate floor spaces: a design which has plenty of critics, but makes a clear break for foreigners in the complexity of Japanese history.

Edo Tokyo Museum is closed on Mondays.

Getting to the Edo Tokyo Museum

The Edo Tokyo Museum lies to the east of the Sumida River, very close to Ryogoku Station. It’s easy to access and the building is pretty hard to miss: many have likened it to an alien lifeform. Taxis will be able to get you here if you prefer not to use public transport. It’s too far to walk from most of central Tokyo.

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