Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum

The lesser-known Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum is putting a special Christmas twist on its regular exhibit: dress warm, put on shoes that are easy to take off, and head over to the unique site.

If you are interested in Japanese history and the role of architecture in understanding different periods, this museum is a must-see. The concept is quite unique as the museum is actually outdoors, and it’s located right in the magnificent Koganei park, which feels kilometers away from Tokyo, even though it’s still in the city.

The museum has been relocating and reconstructing buildings in accordance with the requirements for preservation and salvaging the few architectural remains that were spared from fires, earthquakes, floods and warfare throughout the course of Japanese history.

All the buildings are characteristic to different historical periods, and a handful are built by famous Japanese architects. Most of the buildings exhibited are from the Meiji Period (1868-1912) and more recent times, and include among others, a politician’s elegant former residence, a farm house, a photo studio, a public bathhouse, various shops, restaurants and a police box.

You can enter all the houses and shops, if you’re patient enough to take slip in and out of your shoes each time. You can tour the houses and make yourself at home, pretending to cook in the kitchen or sit on the sofas and chairs. Our favourite house was a simple wooden house from the Edo period, which presented gorgeous tatami floors and sliding doors.

This winter, the museum is putting on a festive turn by featuring a beautiful tea light display in the garden and some illuminations. The museum looks the best at nighttime, and you can even sit outdoors in the heated garden and sip on hot cocoa and some usual festival fare. The museum is very well-organized, as each visitor even receives a hot patch and a torch.

If you can brave the cold, stack on some layers and head out to Koganei Park for a memorable way to soak up some Japanese history.

Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum

When: daily 9:30-17:30 (closes at 20:00 this month, closed on Mondays)

Where: Koganei Park (see map)

How much: Adults ¥400 / Students ¥200

by Vivian Morelli

Photos by Maaserhit Honda

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