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.
The Residential house of Hachirouemon Mitsui, located inside the Edo Tokyo Tatemono-en, in Koganei City, Tokyo, was originally built in Kougai Town (now Nishi Azabu 3 Chome, Minato-ku), in 1952.
The house has a guest room, dining room, kitchen and service room on the first floor and a bedroom, bath room and butsuma room, the room where the family Buddhist altar is placed, on the second floor.
The house, in its original location was burned down during the war. To restore it, many rooms, building materials and stones were transferred from other Mitsui family houses located around Japan. The guest room, transferred from Kyoto, was built in 1897 and kitchen and warehouse were from Meiji period.
The guest room has a carpet with a table and chairs rather than the Japanese style tatami mattress, and its ceiling is decorated with craftwork called “sensai” which is made with colored threads and silk. Above the stairway is a luxurious and rare Czech glass chandelier. The handles of the sliding doors of the butsuma room are made of turquoise colored Shippou-yaki or Cloisonné ware.
The house is filled with a harmonious blend of Western and Japanese styles and visitors can enjoy the quintessence of the Mitsui family’s opulent life-style from the Edo, Meiji and Showa periods.
Looking as if it has no connection to this world, Kannonshoji Temple stands quietly near the top of Mt. Kinugasa, a 433 meter high mountain located on the eastern side of Lake Biwa. The temple is the 32nd of the Saigoku 33 Pilgrimage Temples, which are located in 6 prefectures in the Kinki region and Gifu Prefecture. This pilgrim route is said to be Japan’s oldest pilgrim route.
According to the temple record, Kannonshoji Temple was founded by Prince Shotoku (574-622). Then, in the Kamakura (1192-1333) and Muromachi (1336-1573) periods, it thrived under the protection of the Rokkaku clan and gained power of influence. During these periods, there were as many as 33 attached temples in the mountain.
In the later periods, the temple was involved in wars and relocated to another place. However, in 1597, it was moved again to its original location. Though having receded into the background today, the temple is visited by a lot of worshippers who offer prayers for good relationship in life.
Kaminoseki Bansho is the old guard station located in Nagashima, Kaminoseki-cho, Yamaguchi Prefecture. The guard station was established by the local government to keep an eye on ports and inspect shipping cargo during Edo era.
Because there are very few remnants of buildings preserved from the administrative arm at the beginning of Edo era, Kaminoseki Bansho is of significant importance. It was moved from inside the port where it was once located to its current address in 1996 and reconstructed as it looked originally.
The western side of the Setonaikai Inland Sea had several guard stations for cargo inspection and the region, currently Yamaguchi Prefecture, wasn’t exceptional. They had three stations which were called, in order of distance from the capital, “kaminoseki”, “nakanoseki” and “Shimonoseki” respectively.
Kaminoseki guard station has an overall length of 11.66m and width of 3.86m. It is a wooden building with Irimoya tile roof style and has “geya” (a lower roof) on all sides. The station is designated as a tangible cultural asset by the prefecture.
Akizuki-jou, or Akizuki Castle, was once located in Akizuki-cho, Asakura, Fukuoka Prefecture.
The origin of the castle dates back to 1203 when Harada Tanekatsu built a mountain castle in Mt. Koshouzan (856m above sea level) and his residential castle at the foot of the mountain. He changed his name to Akizuki Tanezane and the residential castle was occupied by generations of the Akizuki family.
In 1587, faced by Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s massive army surrounding the mountain castle, Akizuki Tanezane surrendered to Hideyoshi and the mountain castle was abandoned.
In 1924, Kuroda Nagaoki, who was granted the land of Akizuki, transferred the residential castle to the old mountain castle and made extensive renovations. The ruins we see today are from this castle, in which successive lords of Akizuki family of Kuroda Clan resided until Meiji Period.
The castle’s main gate, Kuromon, is still remaining and the area is known for its fall foliage.
The ruins of Akizuki Castle is a historical site dating from Kamakura Period.
When Oda Nobunaga constructed Azuchi-Momoyama Castle in 1578, he invited the priest Oyo Meikan, who had resided at Jogonbo Temple and whose virtue Nobunaga had long respected, to his new castle town and constructed a temple in the ruins site of Jionji Temple, which used to be the family temple of the Sasaki clan, governor of Omi province, and Nobunaga named the new temple Jogonin Temple.
In 1579, the Azuchi religious debate took place between monks of the Nichiren and Jodo sects of Buddhism, at this temple. Nobunaga used this debate as a good opportunity to weaken the power of influence held by the Nichiren sect. The debate ended with the defeat of the Nichiren sect, which lost its powewr since then. Delighted with their victory, the monks of the Jodo sect chanted Kachidoki-nenbutsu (nenbutsu for victory), which has been dedicated to Buddha in November every year.
The stately main hall was what used to be the main hall of Koryuji Temple in Omihachiman City. It was dismantled and rebuild here. The Romon gate in Irimoya-zukuri style stands since the days of old Jionji Temple. These two structures and five pieces of the temple’s treasure are nationally designated as Important Cultural Properties, which include the wooden statue of sitting Amida Buddha, the pagoda-shaped sarira container housed in Zushi (a miniature Buddhist shrine), the silver statue of standing Amida Buddha housed in Zushi, the depicted image of Sanno Gongen in the Kenpon-Chakushoku style (silk-based colored picture) and Amida Shoju Raigozu (Amitabha mandala) in the Kenpon-Chakushoku style.
Murakumo-gosho Zuiryuu-ji Temple belongs to Nichiren religious sect and is the only Monseki temple among Nichiren temples. It is now located at the top of Hachiman Mountain in Shiga Prefecture.
The temple was built in 1596 by Nisshuuni, an older sister of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, so she could pray there for the soul of her son, Hidetsugu, who was forced to commit harakiri by the order of Hideyoshi.
At the time the temple was built, Nisshuuni was given the land Murakumo of Saga, Kyoto, and the name, Zuiryuu-ji, to the temple by Emperor Goyouzei. The temple attracted many followers from the Imperial family and politically powerful aristocrats and was recognized as a Monseki temple, which is a title given to a temple that had a close relationship with aristocracy, and was called Murakumo-gosho. In the Edo period, the temple was transferred from Saga to Nishijin. The monument of Murakumo-gosho is still present in front of the Nishiji Textile Center.
In 1962, Nichieini who is the 12th representative of the temple and had dedicated her life to restoring it, moved the temple to its current location, the site of Oumi Hchiman Castle, where Hidetsugu was deeply connected to.
Magnificent views can be seen from the temple of the beautiful line of Suzuka Mountains far away, the town of Oomi in the south and Biwa Lake in the east. After the transfer, the main building and the gardens were restored by followers. The temple is now open to the public and welcomes visitors.
Yashima in the northeastern part of Takamatsu City in Kagawa Prefecture is where the Heike built a fortress after a long string of defeats by the Genji and fought a fierce battle of Yashima with the forces led by Minamoto no Yoshitsune in 1185.
Shikoku Minka Museum located in this town of Yashima is an open-air museum, where old rural houses and other historic buildings from various parts of Shikoku have been transported and rebuilt to create a townscape of the old days. The restored buildings include an old guard station and the store house of the Marugame domain, and the Farmers’ Kabuki Theater, which is a very precious historic building and a prefecturally designated cultural property.
You can walk from house to house along the promenade. On the southern hillside is an art museum Shikoku Gallery, where a lot of works of art collected by the founder of Shikoku Minka Museum are exhibited. A beautiful water garden can be viewed from its balcony.