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.
About 7 kilometers from Monbetsu on the Omusaro Plateau in Hokkaido, are the remains of pit dwellings. These remains spread over a hill between Shokotsu River and Omusaro Pond near the town of Okoppe. There are 208 pit dwellings of early native peoples extending for about 1km in this area.
These remains probably belong to the early Jomon period of about 10,000 years ago. There are also remains belonging to the later Satsumon period that feature the unique Okhotsk culture of the Ainu people of Hokkaido. These pit dwellings show us the life of these peoples over a period of 10,000 years.
Today, the remains are part of a park on the plateau, and there is a great view from the top. There has been some restoration of the pit dwellings, and of high-floored warehouses which give a feeling of life in the Satsumon period 1,000 years ago. Plants favored by the Ainu people, such as 'oubayuri', 'ezoengosaku' and 'gyojaninniku' have been planted in the area.
Facing the Sea of Japan in Kaminokuni, Hokkaido, are the remains of a medieval fort-mansion ('tate'). The fort comprised three halls: Hanazawa, Suzaki and Katsuyama halls, all of which are located in Kamino and which have been designated as an important asset of Hokkaido. The remains of Katsuyama hall, the largest of the halls, have helped solve several mysteries about Hokkaido in the middle ages, following excavations and studies of important artifacts since 1979.
Katsuyama hall was built by the father of the Matsuyama clan, Takeda Nobuhiro. In 1457, he overpowered the local Ainu people, and built this fort-mansion as a feudal residence. Excavation of the hall ruins revealed a trench, the remains of a dwelling and some crockery, as well as records showing that more than 200 people of both Japanese and Ainu race lived together here. Such evidence of racial harmony has drawn a lot of attention.
Some 45% of the ceramics and pottery unearthed here was made in China, which shows that there was active trading and exchange with China.
The Kaminokuni fort-mansion is a very important ruin, which not only has an aura of romance, but has helped historians fill in missing links in Hokkaido's past.
The remains of Miharu Castle stand on Mt Ooshida near the town of Miharu in Tamura-gun, Fukushima Prefecture. The castle was established by Lord Yoshiaki Tamura of the Tamura clan and constructed from the Kamakura period to the Nanboku-chou period.
The Tamura clan eventually became one of the servant clans to a larger more powerful clan, but in 1590, after the Ouu-shioki, they changed to serve the Masamune Date and moved to Sendai. Soon after, the castle became the property of clan lords such as Ujisato Gamou, Kagekatsu Uesugi and Yoshiaki Katou.
In 1645, Toshitsue Akita became the castle lord for 10 thousand cubic meters of rice, and the Akita clan ruled until the Meiji Restoration. The castle was abandoned in the 4th year of the Meiji period (1871) due to the abolition of the domain system.
Today, the castle site is famous for its beautiful cherry blossoms. Many public institutions stand near the castle remains, and the area functions as a center of the town of Miharu. Miharu Castle reveals the sorrows and weaknesses of those who were pawns in the inevitable flow of history.
Iga Hachimangu Shrine is located in Okazaki, Aichi Prefecture. Matsudaira Chikatada, an ancestor of the Tokugawa clan, established it as a place to pray for the protection of his descendants.
Tokugawa Iemitsu enshrined his grandfather, Ieyasu, in this shrine, and later expanded it: the extension he created is the main building we see today. From these facts, we can see that the Tokugawa family had a special feeling toward the shrine.
In the past, when the shrine's tori gate was moved, it meant that war was going to break out soon. The main building is full of colors and is designated as a national treasure. The Zuishin gate and stone bridge are designated as important sites of cultural heritage. Iga Hachimangu Shrine is said to help grant luck to families and for work, as well as to expel evil spirits.
Kichidenji Temple is located in the north of the village of Koyoshida near Ikaruga Town in Nara Prefecture. The temple is commonly referred to as Pokkuri Temple.
The Tenji Emperor ordered a grave to be built at this site for his sister, Hashihito-no-himemiko, and in the first year of the Eien period (987), Genshin built a temple here.
The name 'Pokkuri' ('drop dead') derives from the story that Genshin prayed to keep off evil spirits as his mother lay dying, so she could die without pain.
You should not miss the statue of seated Amida in one of the main buildings. It is about 4.85m tall and is the biggest wooden statue in Nara as well as a National Important Cultural Asset. It is said that if you pray in front of this statue, you will live longer.
The rare Taho pagoda, also in Nara, was built in the fourth year of the Kansei period (1463), and has been designated as an Important Cultural Asset.
Shichinohe Castle is said to have been built in the Kamakura period and for a long time was the residence of the Shichinohe Nanbu Clan. In the Edo period, the Nanbu (Morioka) Clan took control of it and placed a magistrate's office there.
The castle is also known as Hakuyo Castle. It is on the edge of a 40m diluvial upland spreading northwest from a junction between the Sakuda and Wada rivers toward an urban district.
The castle remains consist of 7 buildings: the main and secondary ones, the north, west and lower ones, as well as the Horai and square ones, covering a total of about 95,000m2. Each clay wall is original, and the moats, round walls, hillside walls, entrances and warriors' hiding places still remain.
In 1591, the 7 castellans participated in Kunohe Masazane's riot and died. The castle was destroyed in the following year.
Now, as part of the Shichinohe Castle Ruin Protection Plan, excavations are taking place in the north building. In 1996, the main and second buildings were found and 15th-century relics were discovered.
Bicchu Kokubunji is a temple that has been designated as a National Historical Relic Site. It is situated in Soja district, Okayama Prefecture.
Also, Bicchu Kokubunji was built at the Emperor's behest in the Nara period. However, the original temple was destroyed by fire in the Nanboku-chō period. The present structure was rebuilt in the mid-Edo period. The Sangharama, or monastery, was built after the reconstruction. The five-storeyed pagoda is a famous site of Kibiji and Okayama Prefecture. The pagoda has been designated as an important cultural asset. It took over 20 years to build beginning in 1821 and demonstrates the wealth that the country of Bicchu had back then.