The setting is the early 19th century, Tokyo is the isolated city of Edo and you are in the riverside district, Fukugawa, buying a bag of rice, a couple of carrots and a pound of raw fish.
As if built for a film, the showpiece of the Fukugawa Edo Museum is a life-sized reconstruction of the city. In keeping with methods and techniques of the day, eleven buildings have been faithfully reconstructed out of wood. To add to the atmosphere, various sound effects ring through the air. There’s also a canal complete with traditional boat, and even some outdoor lavatories. No evidence in the air though, in fact the only thing that’s not quite right, is that it all seems a little too clean!
Representing the trades of the day, shops and warehouses are amongst the featured buildings. There are also some typical houses. You are free to wander in and out.
Inside the greengrocers you’ll probably find some rather curious vegetables. Sometimes known as the “Japanese radish”, the giant, white, carrot with very smooth skin is alternatively known as the “diacon”. It tastes slightly bitter, but it’s a popular vegetable often grated up and served in a salad, or pickled, and served as a condiment.
Opposite the greengrocers is the oil wholesaler’s shop. The oil on sale is rape seed oil, used in cooking. Further down the road, a number of buildings relate to the storage, preparation and selling of rice. Polishing the grains was the job of the Rice Pounder.
With houses made of wood, early detection of fire was of course vital. For this reason, you won’t help but notice the huge watch tower next to the canal. To add to the hazard, notice too that the floors of each building are covered with straw matting. This straw is “tatami” derived from the “igusa” plant. A tatami mat is always rectangular and made to a standard size of 1.7 square meters. Even today, most houses and apartments have at least one tatami style room. The standard way of expressing room size is to count the number of mats it would take to cover the floor. Today, an average size room in a typical house or apartment would be about six to eight mats.
Open: 9:30am – 5:00pm
Closed: The secound and fourth Monday of each Month.
28th December – January 5th (inclusive).
Adults: 300 yen
Under 15’s: 50 yen
How to get there
Take the TOZAI SUBWAY LINE to MONZEN-NAKACHO STATION. As you leave the station turn right and walk along ETAI DORI AVENUE. When you get to the junction with KIYOSUMI DORI AVENUE you should come across a police box. As none of the smaller streets are named from now on, it’s best to go into the police box where the policeman can provide you with a good map in English.
About 30 minutes.
Tel: 03 3630 8625
Other places to visit nearby
The museum is also near MORISHITA STATION, which is on the TOEI SHINJUKU SUBWAY LINE. Using this line it’s possible to get to Jimbocho and Kudanshita (Yasukuni Shrine).
Featured image in this article by mamichan, CC 2.0