Visiting the Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum is like traveling back in time – find yourself in a late Edo Period house one minute, and a Showa Era house the next. This seven-hectare park in Koganei offers a wonderful day trip for both young and old to enjoy during all four seasons.
Historic Streets and Ghibli Inspiration
Real houses and shops from all over Japan have been taken apart and reconstructed here to preserve their beauty and to show future generations how people in the past used to live. The streets have been adapted to fit the buildings, creating an immersive historical experience.
It’s rumored that Hayao Miyazaki came here when he was working on “Spirited Away,” looking for inspiration. He found it in the beautifully detailed reconstructions in this park. Kagiya, an Edo Period izakaya was one of the inspirations for the area where Chihiro’s parents turned into pigs. The bar was originally located in Shitaya, in Taito-ku. Another spot that appears in the film is the sento Kodakara-yu, which was built in 1929 in Adachi-ku. It remained in business until 1988, after which it was moved here. These aren’t the only places that tickled Miyazaki’s imagination — visit to find more.
Take a Break in a Traditional Residence
With so many beautiful old houses and stores to explore across seven hectares of land, chances are you’ll need a break. Stop for a spot of lunch at Kura, a traditional Japanese restaurant inside an old warehouse that serves udon and other dishes. For a lighter meal or a cup of coffee (or a beer if you prefer), take a break at Cafe Musashino Sabo, which is inside of an old Western-style residence.
There are so many events going on each season that any time is the best time to visit Edo-Tokyo Open-Air Architectural Museum. In August, there’s a Bon Odori dance event, while in autumn the trees are illuminated at night to emphasize their bright red leaves. Winter brings New Year’s calligraphy workshops, while spring offers beautiful cherry blossoms.
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Video & Text by Kana Mitsui, powered by LeTronc