Habitation, living and working on the way to modern times
The special requirements for a modern Japanese metropolis to maintain an ability to constantly change and to react in compliance with the demands of time’s changes (after all, there is hardly a city of this size that has seen as many major fires, floods, earthquakes and devastations of war) are – among other things – responsible for the fact that there are comparatively few monuments left in Tōkyō reminding us of old times – on the other hand, due to the sheer size of the city, it’s still more than a couple of hands full, as this website impressively demonstrates.
In order to retain at least a fraction of the documents of the urban dwelling and living culture of the time between the end of the Edo era and the end of World War II, the “Edo-Tōkyō Open Air Architectural Museum ( 江戸東京たてもの園 / えどとうきょうたてものえん) has been established in 1993. It’s something like a branch of the Edo-Tōkyō Museum (江戸東京博物館 / えどとうきょうはくぶつかん) and occupies an area of 7 hectare in Koganei (小金井 / こがねい) in Tōkyō’s western part.
Everyone who wants to learn more than books can tell about the age of Japan’s industrialisation and opening to the world will find a more than just suitable source here. Based on samples of the living and working culture of these times one can get a grasp for what live really meant back then – even though some of the architectural examples may look, at a first glance, like rather weird but sometimes also quite harmonious combinations of western and Japanese elements of style. They are able to tell much more intens story than any clever statistics or clumsy comparison.
The park’s grounds are divided into three zones:
Center Zone (センターゾーン)
This zone is not only home to the grand entrance hall and the visitor’s center (which includes some of the changing exhibitions of the museum), the former Kōka palace (旧光華殿 / きゅうこうかでん), but also a mausoleum of the early Edo period and some examples of upper-class living in the early 20th century.
Here are some optical impressions:
The former Kōka palace (旧光華殿 / きゅうこうかでん), which was originally built in front of the imperial palace in 1940 for the ceremonies held on the occasion of the 2,600th anniversary of the first Japanese emperor’s accession to the throne. The palace building was moved to its present location in 1941 and later enlarged with the aforementioned visitors center.
The former Jishō-in Mausoleum (旧自証院霊屋 / きゅうじしょういんたまや) was built in the year 1652 for the wife of the third Tokugawa Shōgn (Tokugawa Iemitsu / 徳川家光) and is regarded as one of the very few examples of Tōkyō’s magnificent mausoleum architecture of the early Edo era. In all its splendour it shows that the old mausolees of the Shōguns in Tōkyō didn’t need to fear the comparison with the grandiosity of those in Nikkō.
Please click on one of the minatures in the following mosaics to start a slideshow (I just hope the German descriptions on the pictures won’t confuse you too much).
The House of Korekiyo Takahashi (高橋是清邸 / たかはしこれきよてい), erected in 1902 for the influential politician of the Meiji era, Takahashi, is entirely made of hemlock fir, and all western style rooms show parquet flooring. The delicate windows are of particular beauty.
The house originally stood in Akasaka (赤坂) in the Minato ward (港区). The plot is still there on the southside of the Aoyama dōri (青山通り), next to the Canadian embassy. It is occupied by a park-like garden with old trees. Should you feel that this garden is a bit “spooky”, this would indicate your particular fine reception for historic events: It was here, where Takahashi was killed in an attempted coup by nationalists on February 26th, 1936.
Second Estate of the Nishikawa Family (西川家別邸 / にしかわけべってい）
This, especially from the inside, rather manorial villa was constructed as a retreat and guesthouse for the businessman Izaemon Nishikawa (西川伊左衛門 / にしかわいざえいもん), who established a leading silk-reeling company in the Kita-tama area. Built in the late Taishō period (1922) in Akishima City (昭島 / あきしま, located in the middle west of Tōkyō), when silk products from Japan enjoyed an extremely high demand and Japan was famous for its carefully selected high-quality materials.
In line with the purpose of the building, it consists of mainly guest rooms and rooms for entertainment. There is no kitchen, no bathroom (but stylishly decorated restrooms, of course).
The Gate to the Date Family’s Residence (伊達家の門 / だてけのもん) was taken over from the collections previously displayed at the predecessor of the Edo-Tōkyō Open Air Architectural Museum, the “Musashino Folklore Museum” and shows a particularly gorgeous example for the main gate of a grand mansion in the Taishō era (1912-1926) – it resembles the luxury of buldings of feudal lord’s houses in the Edo era.
West Zone (西ゾーン / にしゾーン)
In this part of the park you will find quite a number of examples of residential buildings from the early 20th century to the end of World War II. In the utmost western part of this section there are also some more rural buildings dating back to the end of the Edo era which are just mentioned here. If your main interest is more in farm houses and residential houses of older times you should consider a visit to the Nihon Minkaen (posting in German only).
Also here some photo impressions:
House of the Ōkawa Family in Den’enchōfu (田園調布の家（大川邸） / でんえんちょうふのいえ おおかわてい)
This one-family-house was built in 1925 in Den’enchōfu (田園調布) in Tōkyō’s Ōta ward (大田区) and shows an – at that time rare – example of completely western style living. Only the bathroom with its deep tub, even though completely tiled, seems to pay tribute to Japanese requirements for personal hygiene. One of the little gems of this building is the bright and cosy sitting area in front to the living room windows, facing the picturesque gazebo.
House of Kunio Maekawa (前川國男邸 / まえかわくにおてい)
I was particularly impressed with this house that was built in 1942 in Kami-Ōsaki (上大崎) in Tōkyō’s Shinagawa ward (品川区). It was built during World War II. when it was difficult to procure building materials. Nevertheless, the owner managed to create a home that may very well be the most western style one in the whole museum, even though it won’t look like it at first glance. The interior has a distinct Scandinavian charm; even the furniture just looks like it came from a Scandinavian furniture catalogue of the 60s of the last century.
Koide-House (小出邸 / こいでてい)
Just next to the House of Kunio Maekawa you’ll find this residence that may, at least at first, look much more “western” than Mr. Maekawa’s house. However, it is more a fine example of the Japanese modernism movement – inspired by a trip to Europe, from which the architect just had come back – and built in 1925. Apart from a rather tacky reception room in the rear part of the building, the rooms facing south (to the garden) are rather traditional Japanese-style rooms with tatami flooring.
House of Georg de Lalande (ゲオルグ・デ・ラランデ 邸 / げおるぐ・で・ららんでてい)
It was originally built in Shinanomachi (信濃町) in the Shinjuku ward (新宿区). Around the year 1910 it was taken over by the German architect, Georg de Lalande, who transformed it into a three-story wooden structure. The house came under various owers over the years, but in 1956 Kaiun Mishima (三島・海雲) (1878-1974), the inventor of the lactic acid beverage Calpis (カルピス), lived there. The building remained in Shinanomachi until 1999 and was re-built here afterwards.
Tokiwadai Photo Studio (常盤台写真場 / ときわだいしゃしんじょう)
This building of a photo studio originally (1937) stood in Tokiwadai (ときわ台), in district of Itabashi (板橋区). It was part of a distinct modern settlement that couldn’t deny its inspiration by the Bauhaus style. It was built to suit the particular needs of a photo studio of its time. The frosted glass windows in the studio on the second floor provided the diffuse lighting needed for taking pictures inside. Nevertheless, the other rooms of the building are rather kept in a traditional Japanese style.
Residence of Hachirouemon Mitsui (三井八郎右衞門邸 / みついはちろうえもんてい)
This building that may be of some contained splendour from the outside, belonged to Hachirouemon Mitsui (1895 -1992). It is most certainly one of the most gorgeous of the whole museum – but it reveals all its splendour only when you see the interior. Even though it was built as late as 1952 in Nishi-Azabu (西麻布) in the Minato ward (港区), parts (guest room, dining room) came from a much older building that was constructed in Kyōto in 1897. The attached storehouse dates back to the year 1874. The splendour of the interior of the building doesn’t come as a big surprise any more, if one knows that the master of the house was the second-last head of the Mitsui-clan. Hence, it is no wonder that it resembles more an imperial summer residence than the town house of an industrial manufacturer.
East Zone (東ゾーン / ひがしゾーン)
Even though this section of the museum’s plot is “opened” by a grand example of stately, traditional Japanese architecture from the end of the Edo era, the farmhouse of the Tenmyō family, it is mainly dedicated to particularly impressive interpretations of urban working- and domestic culture in the Taishō- (1912-1926) and Shōwa era (1926-1989) – with an emphasis on the time before World War II.
Let’s have a look at the house of the Tenmyō family (天明家 / てんみょうけ) first that has recently been renovated and made accessible to public only in 2014.
House of the Tenmyō Family (Farmhaus) (天明家 / てんみょうけ)
The Tenmyō-Familie was the administrator of the village Unoki in the Ōta district of Tōkyō (大田区 / おおたく) during the Edo period (1603-1867). The high social rank of the family is demonstrated by the relatively posh architecture of the house, built in the middle of the 19th century. The grand roof construction as well as the representative gate leading to the house speak their own language.
Nevertheless, the largest portion oft he “East Zone” is covered by the “Shitamachi Naka Dōri” (下町中通 / したまちなかどおり) with its shops and its magificent pubic bath.
Once again, some examples:
Maruni Shōten (Kitchenware Store) (丸二商店（荒物屋） / まるにしょうてん（あらものや）)
This household goods store was built in the early Shōwa era (1926-1989) and sticks out with its most interesting facade made of copper plates that look like the whole wall was woven. The interior shows the layout of traditional merchant’s house in the 30s of last century: the shop opens the main street, the living quarters are located in a sort of row in the long-streched back of the house. Originally the building stood in Kanda-Jinbōchō (神田神保町) in Tōkyō’s Chiyoda ward (千代田区).
House of Uemura (植村邸 / うえむらてい）
Also the front of this house that was built in 1927 in Tōkyōs Chūō (中央区 / ちゅうほうく) ward, is covered with cupper plates and represents a quite an impressive example of the „signboard“-style. While this exterior of the building is kept in a rather western style, the rooms upstairs are purely Japanese. Have a look at the family logo in the gable of the roof: The „US“ (for Uemura Saburo / 植村三郎 / うえむらさぶろ) enframed in a hexagram.
“Hanaichi” Flower Shop (花市生花店 / はないちせいかてん)
This town house shows the so-called „kanban kenchiku“ (看板建築 / かんばんけんちく) – loosely translated as “signboard style” – and dates back to the year 1927, when it was built in Kanda-Awajichō (神田淡路町) in the Chiyoda ward (千代田区). The facade simply looks like it was made for a flower shop. And the interior represents a reproduction of a flower shop in the 1950s.
Yamatoya Crocery Store (大和屋本店 / やまとやほんてん）
This is a wooden, three-story structure built in 1928 in Shirokanedai (白金台 / しろかねだい) in Tōkyō’s Minato ward (港区 / みなとく), is a rather extraordinary example for a disproportionately facade that mixes the „signboard“-style in the lower stories with more traditional Japanese styles in the top floor and roof. The grocery store on the ground floor is decorated and furnished like a shop of that kind during World War II.
“Kodera” Soy Sauce Shop (小寺醤油店 / こでらしょうゆてん)
Originally built in 1933 in Shirokane (白金), in the Minato ward (港区) this store’s building is still a rather typical representative of the Taishō era (1912-1926). Soy sauce, soy paste (miso) and alcoholic beverages were sold here. The main feature of the building is its protruding beam style (出桁造り / だしげたづくり) of the roof.
Stationery store “Takei Sanshōdō” (武居三省堂 / たけいさんしょうどう）
This stationery shop was originally established as whole sale business for calligraphy goods during the early Meiji period (late 19th century). The present post-Greart-Earthquake building was, however, built in Tōkyō’s Chiyoda ward (千代田区 / ちよだく) in the 1927. It documents also a change of business model from whole sale to retail – and it is yet another fine example for the „signboard“ style; in this case with tiled walls.
Mantoku Inn (万徳旅館 / まんとくりょかん)
The Mantoku Inn was originally located in Nishiwake-chō, a part of the Ōme district. Most likely, this building was constructed towards the end of the Edo period (1603-1867) or the early Meiji period (1868-1912). Initially, it was an all-wood construction, but when the whole building was re-constructed on the site of the museum, steel-enhancements were added.
The upper floor of the guesthouse was added around the middle of the Meiji era in order to provide more space for guest rooms. At that time, also a storage building was connected with the inn.
The inn was run until 1993 and had seen only minor changes since the days of its construction. The re-construction at the museum shows the interior as it may have looked like in the 50s of the last century – and still then it provided some Edo ear-charm.
Kagiya Bar (鍵屋（居酒屋） / かぎや（いざかや）)
This wooden building was taken over from the previously existing “Musashino Folklore Museum”. It is supposed have originally stood at the Kototoi street (言問通り) in Shitaya (下谷) in the Taitō ward (台東区) since 1856. As such it is one of the very few buildings that have survived not only the great earquake of 1923 but also the devastation of World War II.
The bar’s premises on the ground floor have been furnished in such a way as they may have looked like in the 1970s. It takes very little fantasy only to imagine happy drinking “sarariiman” (サラリーマン) (office workers) here.
Public bathhouse Kodakara-yu (子宝湯 / こだからゆ)
Not only from the outside one of the most gorgeous buildings of the whole exihition. This public bathhouse dates back to the year 1929 when it was built in Senjū-Motomachi (千住元町) in the Adachi ward (足立区). The luxury of the establishment is documented in the large Chinese-style gable like those used for temples and shrines, and the seven happy gods above the entrance. The lattice ceiling above the dressing rooms would also do credit to a glorious temple. These two dressing rooms are separated by half-walls with mirrors, as the bath rooms are. The front walls of the bath rooms show magnificent paintings of japanese landscapes around Mt. Fuji. If you don’t feel like washing your body here, you won’t feel like it anywhere.
Tailor’s workshop (仕立屋 / したてや)
This merchant-style house also features the protruding beam style (出桁造り / だしげたづくり) which sets this otherwise simple, small building apart. The tailor’s workshop of the Meiji era (1868-1912) was built in 1879 in Mukōgaoka (向ヶ丘) in the Bunkyō ward (文京区). The workplace of a tailor of the Taishō era (1912-1926) has been repoduced inside.
Cosmetic Manufacture “Murakami Seikado” (村上精華堂・化粧品屋 / むらかみせいかどう・けしょうひんや)
This is a cosmetic shop that used to stand on the Shinobazu street (不忍通り) in Ikenohata (池之端) in the Taitō ward (台東区). Since the early Shōwa period (1928) it sold cosmetics such as nourishing creams, camellia cosmetic oil and perfume, both wholesale and retail. The front is decoreted in a very modern style and covered by artificial stones with washout treatment and Ionic colums – a style that might move you to tears – but it won’t (most likely) be tears of joy but tears of despair over such stupendous archtictural style.
Oil-paper Umbrella Wholesale Store, Kawano Shōten (川野商店（和傘問屋） / かわのしょうてん（わがさとんや)
When production and sales of paper umbrellas was one of the upcoming big businesses, this stately wholesale store was built in 1926 in Minami-Koiwa (南小岩) in the Edogawa ward (江戸川区). On the sales floor you can not only see the products of the store, but also miniatures displaying the process of umbrella production.
Edo-Tōkyō Open Air Architectural Museum
3-7-1 Sakurachō, Koganei
Open daily, except on Mondays (should Monday be a public holiday, the museum stays closed on Tuesday instead)
April to September: 9.30 am to 5.30 pm
October to March: 9:30 am to 4.30 pm
(Last entry 30 minutes before closing time)
Adults: 400 Yen
Seniors (65 years or older): 200 Yen
College students: 320 Yen
High school students*: 200 Yen
Junor high school students (in Tōkyō) and younger: free
* Junior high school students from outside Tōkyō pay 200 Yen as well.
Persons with certified disabilities and up to two attendants accompanying them: free
On the third Saturday and Sunday of every month there is a “Family Day”. Admission fee for partents accompanied by a child younger than 18 years is half of the normal price.
On every third Wednesday of every month there is a “Silver Day”. Admission fee for visitors 65 years of age or older: free
Special Hints for visitors who wish to take pictures:
- Photographing, filming, video recording and making sketches with models will be regarded as a commercial aim and is subject to fees.
- Taking photographs that might distrub other visitors may be forbidden.
- Do not use flashlights inside the buildings.
- Do not move equipment, fixtures and guide signs in the buildings.
- Picture-taking is generally prohibited in the following buildings:
– Residence of Hachirouemon Mitsui (2nd floor, buddhist prayer room)
– Residence of Hachirouemon Mitsu (storehouse)
– Exhibition rooms (depending on the exhibition, please ask the staff)
- Do not use tripods in the following places:
– In any of the buildings.
– In some parts of the gardens (front garden of the farmhouse of the Tsunashima Family, garden of the Residence of Hachirouemon Mitsui, garden of the house of Korekiyo Takahashi, Tea Arbor “Kaisuian”)
– In narrow passages which might cause inconveniences to other visitors
- For the permission of commercial photographing and filming, please make contact with the information center.
How to get there:
By JR Chūō line (JR中央線 / JRちゅうおうせん) to Musahi-Koganei (武蔵小金井 / むさしこがねい) (fare from Shinjuku to Musashi-Koganei: 290 Yen).
From there on foot from the north exit in northern direction for about 15-20 minutes along the Koganei-Kaidō (小金井街道 / こがねいかいどう), also decoratively called “Shiruku Road” (シルクロード) – something that happens when English written in Japanese katakana is “translated back” to letters without knowing basic English – of course, it’s supposed to read “Silk Road”.
Anyway, follow this street to the crossing with the Itsukaichi-Kaidō (五日市街道 / いつかいちかいどうこう) – take a larger gasoline station in the northwest corner as a landmark. From there it’s about 800 metres to the east along the aforementioned Itsukaichi-Kaidō.
If you don’t feel like walking, you can also take the Seibu-Bus (西武バス / せいぶバス) from the north exit of Musahi-Koganei station (platform 2 or 3), which also follows the Koganei-Kaidō to the north. Get off the bus at “Koganei Kōen Nishiguchi” (小金井公園西口 / こがねいこうえんにしぐち) and walk for about 5 minutes from there in eastern direction.
Alternative: Take the Kantō-Bus (関東バス / かんとうバス) from the north exit of Musahi-Koganei station (platform 4*) heading for Mitaka station (三鷹駅 / みたかえき). Get off the bus at “Edo-Tōkyō Tatemeno-en mae” (江戸東京たてもの園前 / えどとうきょうたてものえんまえ), right in front of the museum.
Take the Seibu-Shinjuku line (西武新宿線 / せいぶしんじゅくせん) to Hana-Koganei (花小金井 / はなこがねい) (fare from Seibu Shinjuku to Hana-Koganei: 260 Yen) and from there the Seibu bus to Musashi-Koganei – get off the bus, as mentioned above at “Koganei-Kōen Nishiguchi” (小金井公園西口 / こがねいこうえんにしぐち) and walk for about 5 minutes in eastern direction.
(Since I haven’t walked from Hana-Koganei to the Edo-Toyko Open Air Architectural Museum myself, I feel compelled to refrain from giving “untested” details here.).