It was the last day of the 18-day route through Japan. We had arrived by bus from Matsumoto to Shinjuku station. We were in Tokyo and it was pouring rain. That's why we thought it would be a good opportunity to visit the Edo Tokyo Museum. Some say that museums are only for rainy days. However, at Tokyo city history museum or Edo Tokyo Museum (江 戸 東京 博物館) worth going even if the sun shines, because it is a visit spectacular and at the same time interesting.
He Edo Tokyo Museum It is next to the Sumida River and the nearest metro station is the Ryogoku (line E - Oedo). The building is easily recognized from a distance by its enormity and its modern architectural style. The tickets they are bought on the ground floor, but to enter the museum you have to climb for some Mechanic stairs at street level.
Upon entering the Museum proper, there is a counter where the guide service. If you plan it with a little time, you can get to enjoy a guide who speaks spanish and all. In our case, we arrived at the museum a little bit of time, at 4:00 p.m. A veteran gentleman met us and told us that the guided tour service ends at 5:00 p.m. Even so, he offered to make us a brief introduction of one hour by the museum (in English).
It was incredible. You could tell that this man had great expertise in explaining Tokyo history To visitors. In an hour, he made us a summary of the history of Japan focused mainly on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as it was at that time when the Japanese nation experienced a brutally fast change. As he told us: "In just 100 years, Japan went from being a medieval country to developing a level of technology modern enough to declare war on China and later also on the United States." After the introduction, which took about three quarters of an hour, he accompanied us to the first elements of the museum's exhibition.
We cross a red lacquered wood bridge Traditional Japanese style and around us we contemplate the Two levels in which the museum extends, all within a single space of enormous dimensions. To give you an idea of its magnitude, there are reproductions of entire buildings on a real scale (!). This amplitude gives the museum a much more air enjoyable usual. There are hardly any halls or halls here, just a large space through which you go through the history of the city of Tokyo.
On the bridge, our guide told us that we were in a reproduction of the Nihonbashi, a bridge that was built in Tokyo in 1603. It is an important bridge because it was the starting or ending point of the two great trade routes that connected the city of Edo with Kyoto, which was where the emperor then resided. The Edobashi, as it was called at the time, was located in the most important merchant district and it was that coming and going of people to the city that made it prosper. Today the bridge is made of cement and has an elevated highway that passes over it, but it is still the kilometer zero from Japan.
On the other end of the bridge you can see huge Tokyo dioramas in the 17th century, where the boom of the city is explained. It all started when the shogun Tokugawa He decided to turn the town of Edo into the capital of the shogunate. Even so, the official capital of Japan remained Kyoto until the end of the 19th century, when the imperial family finally moved to Tokyo. It was at that moment when Edo Happened to be called Tokyo, which means "capital of the east." And that's why the museum is called «Edo Tokyo». In addition a diorama of Nihonbashi merchant district, which was named after the famous bridge, there is also another where you can see the rich residence of a daimio in the Tokyo of the same era. Here the guide told us the sly plan that Tokugawa had devised to keep the peace after becoming a shogun and for which the city of Edo was a key tool.
We could have continued listening to the man's explanations for four more hours, but without realizing it, it was already five in the afternoon. Fully accomplished his mission, the guide said goodbye to us and we continued exploring the museum on our own.
In the next section of Edo Tokyo Museum daily life is shown and the Professions of the inhabitants of Edo in its beginnings. For this, a period building is used, divided into different narrow houses of artisans that allow people to see how they made a living in the city. There is the carpenter who makes barrels, or the artist who makes drawings with the technique of engraving (very detailed work is required to add each layer of color). Each section has its panels with information about these arts, but most of the information is in Japanese. That is why I told you before that it is highly recommended to book in advance a guide that knows your language.
Then you go to a section where the importance of the city of Edo is explained for the art world. There is a huge diorama where the Ryōgoku bridge, built in 1659, and the neighborhood that formed around it, of the same name. It was one of the neighborhoods where citizens were going to have fun. And among these amusements was the kabuki theater. There is a real-scale representation of a stage of kabuki and there is also a miniature where the ingenious are shown special effects that were used to surprise viewers.
You can also see here one of the high floats that were used in the processions of Kanda holidays, on September 15. And there is also a miniature where you can see more of these floats, specifically three processional altars transported by a lot of faithful.