Edo-Tokyo open air architectural museum

Posted on June 5, 2015 by Toothpicker There have been 0 comments

tokyo edo open air architectural museumtokyo edo open air architectural museum tokyo edo open air architectural museum

 

No matter how many times I have visited Tokyo, there would always be interesting sights or attractions that I have yet to visit. And on this trip, I visited the Edo-Tokyo open air architectural museum in the western suburbs of Tokyo for the first time. Situated close to the Ghibli Museum (a MUST for all Studio Ghibli fans), the museum has served as the inspiration for many of the Studio Ghibli's animations.

Since the Edo period (1603 to 1868), Tokyo has lost many valuable historical buildings due to natural and man-made disasters like fires, floods, earthquakes and warfare. And like many other major cities around the world, numerous culturally significant buildings were also destroyed because of urban regeneration or redevelopment.

In 1993, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government relocated and reconstructed 30 historical buildings within the seven-acre park as a way of preserving their cultural heritage.

 

tokyo edo open air architectural museumtokyo edo open air architectural museum tokyo edo open air architectural museumtokyo edo open air architectural museumtokyo edo open air architectural museumtokyo edo open air architectural museum

 

Walking around the site, you almost feel like you are on a film set. There are several private residences (with gardens), a tea room and a mausoleum in the central and west zones; and a mini town full of quaint shops in the east zone. There are also guides/volunteers on site explaining the history of the buildings (in Japanese), and I was lucky to have had my Japanese friend there translating for me.

 

tokyo edo open air architectural museumtokyo edo open air architectural museum tokyo edo open air architectural museumtokyo edo open air architectural museumtokyo edo open air architectural museumtokyo edo open air architectural museum tokyo edo open air architectural museumtokyo edo open air architectural museum tokyo edo open air architectural museum

 

In the east zone, you would come across a Meiji period (1868-1912) 'high street' full of specialist shops selling soy sauce, cosmetics, stationery (my favourite), grocery, umbrellas and kitchenware etc. At the end of the street, there is a large temple-like public bathhouse "Kodakara-yu" which was originally built in 1929. This mini town served as Hayao Miyazaki's inspiration for the lost world in "Spirited Away" (one of my favourite Ghibli animations).

 

tokyo edo open air architectural museumtokyo edo open air architectural museum tokyo edo open air architectural museumtokyo edo open air architectural museumtokyo edo open air architectural museum tokyo edo open air architectural museumtokyo edo open air architectural museum

Kodakara-yu public bathhouse

 

This beautiful gable-roofed public bathhouse (sento) has been carefully restored, with separate male and female changing areas and baths. The male side features a mural of Mount Fuji ( an ubiquitous theme in traditional bathhouses), while the female side features a picturesque but less 'grand' scene ( anything to do with sexism here?).

The baths are divided by a low wall with several tiled paintings depicting scenes from traditional folklore and fables; meanwhile, nostalgic advertising posters can also be seen in the changing areas.

 

tokyo edo open air architectural museumtokyo edo open air architectural museum tokyo edo open air architectural museumtokyo edo open air architectural museumtokyo edo open air architectural museum tokyo edo open air architectural museum

 

In the west zone, there are some Edo farmhouses with thatched roofs from the former Musashino Folklore Museum. And interestingly, there are volunteers (or Hijiro-kai) who would demonstrate or work on various tasks inside these farmhouses daily (except for holidays).

 

Kunio Mayekawa houseKunio Mayekawa house Kunio Mayekawa houseKunio Mayekawa house Kunio Mayekawa houseKunio Mayekawa house

 

Unexpectedly, I discovered my 'dream house' here... and it was a house built in 1942 by the Modernist architect Kunio Mayekawa for himself. The interior of this Japanese gabled roof wooden house reminded me of Finnish Modernist architect Alvar Aalto's home in Helsinki (read by earlier entry here). Built during the Second World War with limited materials in Shinagawa, the house was dismantled in 1973 and eventually reassembled at the current site. I love the bright and high-ceilinged salon; and the mix of Japanese screens with western modernist furniture and decorations. The house does not look outdated, and it proves that good designs will always stand the test of time.

 

tokyo edo open air architectural museumtokyo edo open air architectural museumtokyo edo open air architectural museum

Top row: House of Koide; 2nd row: House of Georg de Lalande; Bottom row: Architectural paper models on sale at the museum shop

 

The "House of Georg de Lalande" is another house that inspired the Ghibli animation team. This Western-style house was originally built in the Shinjuku ward by German architect Georg de Lalande, and was enlarged into a three-storey wooden house in 1910. Now the house has been converted into a cafe/tearoom.

I highly recommend a visit to this open air museum (less busy during weekdays), and you can combine it with either the Ghibli musuem or the historical Jindaiji Temple ( the second oldest temple in Tokyo, originally built in 733) and Jindai Botanical gardens. After spending days in the hectic Tokyo city centre, it is worth venturing out because you are most likely to enjoy a more relaxing pace in this suburban yet leafy part of the city.

 


This post was posted in Japanese design, Tokyo, Architecture, Travel, Anything Japanese, Architectural conservation, Design and was tagged with Tokyo, Architectural conservation, Japanese architecture

Comments