Tokyo through the centuries at this funny-looking but seriously impressive museum.
Modeled after a traditional Edo raised storehouse, from the outside the Edo-Tokyo Museum looks like an enormous spaceship crossed with a luxury cruise ship. As the train pulls into the Ryogoku district where the museum is located, you can see the building hovering over the Kokugikan sumo stadium about to beam up all of the wrestlers.
Inside the museum is a vast display of items spread over two open floors, dominated by a life-size replica of the Nihombashi Bridge. There are more than 2,500 items; from old maps and swords to meticulously detailed dioramas, as well as large-scale, interactive models showing what daily life was like during the Edo period including a full reconstruction of the Nakamura-za Theater – one of the three main kabuki theatres of Edo.
You can check out some traditional toilet time at the Edo toilets, take a photo sitting on a replica penny farthing, see a typical room from a post-war apartment and learn how contemporary Tokyo was formed from the 1960s to 2010 through a collection of everyday objects – they even have a fossilized Windows 95 box on display to make you feel really old.
The Edo-Tokyo Museum offers free guided tours of the permanent exhibition area. Reserve on the day (from 10.00 to 15.00) or in advance by calling the museum at least two weeks before you plan to visit. Visitors can also pick up a free audio guide (with a refundable deposit) at the General Information counter on the 1st or 3rd floors.
Special exhibitions on Japanese and international subjects take place throughout the year. The museum also runs different events mostly in Japanese including hands-on workshops and lectures on the history and culture of Edo-Tokyo.