Edo Tokyo Tatemono-en or The Open Air Architectural Museum is located inside Koganei Park on the western outskirts of Tokyo. It is a spacious and bright open-air museum that showcases 27 historical and cultural buildings from the Edo period to the beginning of the Showa period. It first opened to the public in March, 1993.
Its vast area of 7 hectares is divided into roughly three sections: buildings from downtown Tokyo in the east, Yamanote residential areas in the west and historically intriguing buildings in the middle.
Along with these historically important buildings, a whole town was reconstructed and the tools used in daily life are exhibited inside as well as outside the buildings. Visitors can then enjoy a more complete experience of what life must have been like from the beginning of the Edo period to the Showa period.
Among the buildings transferred from their original locations and reconstructed in the museum are the residential house of the Mitsui Family, the Bathhouse Kodakara-yu which inspired the popular movie Spirited Away, the residential house of Kunio Maeda, an architect, and the residential house of Korekiyo Takahashi, a politician from the beginning of the Showa period.
At the museum, visitors can travel beyond time and feel their past heritage.
Kameyama-juku was the 46th of the 53 post stations of the Tokaido Road in the Edo period (1603-1686). It was in the eastern part of current Kameyama City in Mie Prefecture. The town thrived as a post town and a castle town as well. There are a lot of historic sites such as the ruins of Kameyama Castle including the ruins of Edoguchi-mon Gate and Kyoguchi-mon Gate and the site where the Ishii brothers gained revenge.
In Ando Hiroshige’s “Kameyama” of his “The 53 Post Stations of the Tokaido Road,” he depicted a procession of a feudal lord ascending a steep hillside, under deep snow among the trees, to the entrance to Kameyama Castle. The brightness of snow is wonderfully expressed in this monochromatic ink painting, but at the same time we can’t help realizing keenly how hard it was to make a journey in those days.
Presently, there are many historic constructions remaining in the town. These remnants of an ancient castle town include a temple, which used to be a part of the castle compound, old samurai houses, and the right-angled streets.
Kuwana-juku was the 42nd of the 53 post stations of the Tokaido Road in the Edo period (1603-1686). It was in current Kuwana City in Mie Prefecture. As is referred to in a famous Japanese pivot words, “Sonote wa Kuwana no Yaki-hamaguri (Your method is a broiled clam of Kuwana),” the town is famous for broiled clams. Kuwana had been the distribution center and an intermediate port of the marine traffic in this area since very old times. For the pilgrims heading for Ise Shrine, the town was the eastern entrance of the Ise province.
As it was very difficult for travelers to take an inland route due to the Kiso River crossing the Tokaido Road between Kuwana-juku and Miya-juku, a ferry route called “Shichi-ri no Watashi” was provided between the two post stations. Travelers could go 7 ri (about 27 km) of the way comfortably on a boat, which was depicted in Ando Hiroshige’s “The 53 Post Stations of the Tokaido Road.” The boats took different coursed according to rise and fall of the tide, and the time required varied. The torii gate erected at the port was called “Ise-koku Ichi-no-torii (the 1st Torii of Ise Province).” It is renewed at Shikinen Sengu of Ise Shrine (reconstruction of all the buildings of Ise Shrine done once every 20 yeas) even today.
Old Kuroiwa residence is an old private house located in Misumai, Minami-ku, Sapporo City, Hokkaido. In 1872, when the Usu Shindo Road was opened to traffic, the house was built as a national travelers’ lodge named Misumai Tsukoya. It was used for the lodge until 1884, and then it was disposed of by the government to the Kuroiwa family, the former manager of the lodge. Since then the three generations of the Kuroiwa family resided and ran a private inn here. The house was bought by the city and was designated as a municipal tangible cultural property in 1984.
The house is composed of two sections; the older one is what was used as the Tsukoya lodge and the newer one was added by the Kuroiwa family later. The newer section, which includes the stable and the storehouse, is open to the public as a historical museum, where visitors can learn about the life of farmers in the pioneering period. In 2005, the house was designated as a Hokkaido Heritage.
Suruga Sensuji bamboo ware is a traditional handicraft made in Shizuoka Pref. “Sensuji” means 1,000 thin bamboo strips. This craft dates back to the early Edo period (1603-1868), when warriors in the Okazaki domain (present-day Shizuoka Pref.) began to make woven hats for hunting and traveling using bamboo instead rattan, because rattan hats were expensive in those days. As the bamboo hats gained popularity, there were about 40 warriors who were engaged in this craft as a side job. In the early days, the products were “cheap and nasty,” but they gradually became superior in quality through improvements. Eventually Suruga bamboo ware rose in popularity all over the nation. Suruga Sensuji bamboo ware is characterized by the use of thin round strips to make it delicate and gentle. It is designated as a Traditional Handicraft by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry.
Araragi Hinokigasa is a cypress bark hat made in Araragi area in Nagiso-machi, Kiso County, Nagano Pref. The origin of this craft dates back to the early Edo period, when cypress hats were in brisk demand. In those days travelers going back and forth along the Kiso-Kaido Road favored Kiso cypress bark hats, which were light, durable and good-looking, and smelled fresh. The hats could be used for protection from both the sun and the rain. When a cypress bark hat gets wet, it absorbs water and gets swollen, which makes the meshes closer and waterproof. When it is dried, the meshes are constricted again and get airy. This moisture resistance, moth proofing and hard-wearing hat was an indispensable item for a long journey. In the present days, Araragi cypress bark hats are popular as interior ornaments. The technique is also utilized to make new items sole inserts and eyeshades.
Matsuo Bashou was a haiku poet in the early Edo period. His given name was Munefusa, although at various stages of his life he used different pseudonyms such as Tousei, Hakusendou, Chougetsuan and Fuuraibou. He finally settled on Bashou though he often signed his name as Hasewo, which is another way to pronounce Bashou in Kanji. He was born 1944 in Iga, Mie pref. During his early life, he started composing Haikai, a verse poetry developed out of a tradition of renga or linked verse, (which later became known as Haiku) and at the age of 31, he went to Edo (now Tokyo) and became a professional Haikai poet. He created a retreat hut there and planted bashou plantain trees, calling the place Bashou-an, hence his pseudonym. He developed Haikai, which until that time had been a comic, less serious style of writing, into higher level of art form and established Shoufuu or Bashou style. He also traveled extensively across Japan, composing poetry along the way and mastered this new trend of Japanese short verse literature. At the time of Bashou, it was common for Haiakai poets to live a nomadic life and travel throughout the land, sharing information and culture around the country. In his most famous book, Okunohosomichi, he described his journey through Tohoku to Hokuriku area covering 2400km which he completed in six months. With this unusual speed of traveling and his birth place, a curious rumor says he was a ninja (Iga is famous as a birth place of ninja). In 1694 while traveling, Matsuo Bashou died at an inn in Oosaka. He was 50.
Gogo-an is a hut located in the precincts of Kokujyo Temple on the mountainside of Mt. Kugami, Tsubame City (old Wakemizu-mach) Niigata Pref. and designated as a prefecture’s Historical Site. This is said to be the hermit hut of Ryokan, a monkof Sodoshu (a Buddhist sect), poet and chirographer in the Edo period. Ryokan is said to have lived here for 12 years, from 48 years old to 59, after his nationwide pilgrim journey. The name “gogo” comes from the story that Ryokan was contributed gogo (five cups) of rice from the resident priest of Kokujyo Temple every day. The simple hut with thatch roof is 3.6 meters wide and 2.7 meters deep, only with an area of present 6 jo (6 tatami mats). Here Ryokan did zazen, read classics, made poems and went about asking for alms. He was contented with honest poverty all through his life and might have attained a state of perfect self-effacement here.