Tokyo has a wealth of museums but this one is a perpetual favorite. If your inner child just jumps up and down at the idea of hands-on fun, then indulge it and head out to the old-fashioned Fukugawa neighborhood where Edo-era Tokyo comes alive.
The Fukugawa-Edo Museum (not to be confused with the larger and also very worthwhile Edo-Tokyo Museum) isn’t much more than one large room. But in that room, the museum has created an entire city block as it would have appeared in the Edo era (1603-1868). Not only are the buildings filled with authentic props (like a rice pounder at the rice merchant’s store or high-necked wooden pillows hidden away in household closets) but visitors are allowed to climb through the buildings and pick up anything that isn’t nailed down. If you’re not too sure on what you’re looking at, the museum has a fantastic multi-page guidebook that describes each and every property in the museum (and gives a fun little backstory of the neighborhood “residents” as well).
For an added touch of authenticity, the museum experiences day and night on a 24 minute cycle. Cats meow, crickets chirp, the sound of merchants selling inari zushi (tofu pockets stuffed with rice) completes the background soundtrack.
There are a few sections downstairs that exhibit documents and pictures relating to the Edo period but sadly, no part of this exhibition is translated. However, a large room off the side often showcases traveling art and the information sheet is presented in both languages. I once saw all of Hiroshige’s Fifty Three Stations of the Tokaido Way woodblock prints on display here and it was stunning.
The Fukugawa-Edo Museum is a short walk from the Kiyosumi-Shirakawa metro stop (on the Oedo line); after a museum visit, don’t leave without stopping off at the Kiyosumi Shirakawa garden, a beautiful stroll garden with a large pond and beautiful grove of cherry trees.
Hours: 9:30am – 5:00pm; closed the second and fourth Monday of each month.
Price: Adults: ¥300 Under 15: ¥50
Location: 3-5 minutes on foot from Kiyosumi-Shirakawa Station on the Oedo Line. Located off Kiyosumi Dori on a street called Fukagawa Shiryokan Dori.