The Edo-Tokyo Museum is dedicated to the history of Tokyo, formerly known as Edo. The museum is housed in a very unique building from 1993, which is almost an attraction in it self.
- A 1:1 replica of the famous Nihonbashi Bridge
- Several 1:1 scale historic buildings
- An impressive miniature city depicting Edo
Quick History Lesson
The city of Edo, or Tokyo as we know it today, dates back to the 1600’s. When the Tokugawa clan came to power in the early 1600’s they settled in Edo. Edo soon became the power center of Japan, though Kyoto kept it’s status as capital until the Meiji Restoration in 1868. With the power focused in Edo, the former village grew quickly, and reached a estimated population of 1 million in the 1720’s.
The Edo-Tokyo Museum reflects the history and culture of Edo/Tokyo. The history is presented in an easily digestible format, with many paintings, pictures, objects and scale models. The visual communication style makes it really fun to learn about the evolution from Edo to Tokyo.
When you first enter the museum you cross the full size replica of the historic Nihonbashi Bridge. From the bridge there’s a view down on the lower floor of the museum where full sized replicas of historic buildings sit. You can walk through the history of the city more or less chronologically, which is a good way to get a sense of the city’s evolution. Walking among the full size replica buildings on the lower floor is really impressive, and can almost transport you back in time. It’s a great way to experience how the daily life was in Japan hundreds of years ago.
I personally liked the section with the replica houses, but I also really liked the section which talks about Tokyo during and after the second world war. Japan was heavily bombed, and huge parts of Tokyo was completely destroyed. The aerial photos taken of Tokyo after the bombings really set things in perspective.
The museum building is a modern structure from the early 1990’s. Its design draws key elements from classical Japanese warehouses in kurazukuri style. The broad lower roof, and the window filled floor above that clearly resembles this old style. The huge empty space under the building gives it a futuristic look. Personally, my thoughts are drawn to Star Wars when seeing this impressive building.
Planning your visit
The Edo-Tokyo Museum is normally open from 9:30 – 17:30.
The museum is generally closed on Mondays, but check the calendar on their website.
General entrance fee: ¥600 ($6/€4.5) in 2018.
There are discounted rates for students and elderly.
Length of visit
I recommend that you plan to spend around 2 hours in the museum.
If you just come to look at the visuals and aren’t as interested in history 1 hour will probably do.
You might also find these articles interesting: Best Travel Guides for Japan, Visiting Japan on a Budget and Japan Rail Pass.
I also recommend you to check out all my other posts about things to see and do in Tokyo.
By train: There are two stations nearby. Both are named Ryogoku Station. The Oedo Line stops at Ryogoku subway station, near the museum entrance. The JR East Chuo-Sobu Line (local) stops at the JR Ryogoku station, a 4 minute (400m) walk from the entrance. The Chuo-Sobu Line is covered by the Japan Rail Pass.