The Metropolitan Edo-Tokyo Museum opened its doors in March 1993 as a space to reflect on the history and culture of Edo-Tokyo and envision the city and life of the future. Housed in a unique building modeled after an elevated-floor type warehouse, the museum has been a landmark and popular tourist attraction in Tokyo since its opening.
The permanent exhibition, showcasing original objects and replicas, offers visitors a journey through the 400-year history of Edo-Tokyo since Tokugawa Ieyasu entered Edo. In addition to the permanent exhibition, the museum holds special exhibitions at the first floor gallery five to six times a year and carries out various other events, including lectures and workshops on the history and culture of Edo-Tokyo.
We hope that the museum can be Tokyo’s center for the creation of new culture and a place of respite for visitors.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Edo-Tokyo Museum aspires to be a cultural facility that offers high quality programs modeled on “iki,” an aesthetic ideal distinct to Edo, and, at the same time, “nigiwai (bustling)” with many visitors to this museum specializing in the history of the city. To this end, we will readapt this concept of “iki and nigiwai” to meet contemporary contexts on which the Museum’s basic administrative policy shall rest.
We will pass on to future generations the history and culture of Edo-Tokyo through the core activities of the Museum, namely, the collection of related materials, the holding of exhibitions, and the preservation of a collection of about 590,000 items. We will ensure that the Tokyo population at large will benefit from the outcomes of our studies and research, and we will hold diverse outreach programs. Furthermore, we will encourage people-to-people exchanges among people visiting from other parts of Japan and overseas, identifying the Edo-Tokyo Museum as a center of tourism and regional promotion.
The Edo-Tokyo Museum’s logo was modeled after the left eye of the famous ukiyo-e print of a kabuki actor, entitled, “Ichikawa Ebizo no Takemura Sadanoshin (Ichikawa Ebizo as Takemura Sadanoshin),” which was painted by the so-called mysterious ukiyo-e painter of the Edo period, Toshusai Sharaku. The intense cross-eye expression of the mie pose is intended to represent the fascination and curiosity of the visitors to the museum. This logo – this gaze from the distant Edo period – seems to be watching over Tokyo, both in the present day and into the future (Designer: Koichi Sato).
This official mascot was selected through a contest in March 2003 on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the Edo-Tokyo Museum, with a view to making the museum more accessible to the people in Tokyo. The mascot was modeled after the newel post of the railing of the Nihonbashi Bridge attached with an ornament known as “giboshi” (in the shape of the bulbous flower of the onion). The bridge is displayed in the permanent exhibition.
◆What is the Edo-Tokyo Museum?
|The Edo-Tokyo Museum is a museum of Tokyo urban history, which exhibits the history, life, and culture of the city from the 1600s to today. Its permanent exhibition area on the 5th to 6th floors covers a vast space of almost 100,000 square foot. ||
Edo-Tokyo Museum exterior
◆What is “Edo”?
|More than 400 years have passed since warlord Tokugawa Ieyasu established his government in Edo, located in today’s Tokyo area. By the early 18th century, Edo had become one of the world’s largest metropolises, with a population of about one million people. By the late 18th century, its own distinctive culture had flourished, and it had become Japan’s de facto capital, where people, manufactures, and information converged from all |
over the country.
“New Year’s Day in front of Mitsui Echigoya in Suruga-chō,” 19th century
◆Culture of the Edo people
Edo was a lively center from which spread the latest trends and cultural products, such as kabuki theatre, popular and religious festivals, fashion, and ukiyo-e woodblock prints. In time it became a major destination that attracted visitors from all over the country. Edo townspeople adopted these trends and cultural products, making Edo culture more sophisticated.
◆Edo culture and Europe in 19th century
|Exported Japanese ceramics and lacquerware were highly appreciated and met the taste of the European upper class. |
Ukiyo-e woodblock prints, which had been introduced to
Europe in the mid-19th century, influenced Impressionist painters.
Katsushika Hokusai, “The Great Wave off Kanagawa,” 19th century
◆From Edo to Tokyo
The restoration of imperial power in 1868 (Meiji Restoration) brought to an end the military regime established by the Tokugawa family in Edo two and a half centuries before. The capital was transferred from Kyoto to Edo, which was renamed Tokyo (“Eastern capital”), while Edo Castle, former residence of the Tokugawa chieftains, became the new imperial palace.
◆Learning about the culture & history of Tokyo
|The permanent exhibition area features life-size models of the Nihonbashi bridge and houses of the Edo townsmen. Several finely crafted dioramas re-create in great detail the architecture and lifestyles peculiar to each period. Hands-on exhibits display tools used by Edo merchants, Edo firefighters’ equipment, a traditional palanquin used by Edo-period feudal lords, and other artifacts. Through the museum’s exhibits and abundant original historical material, visitors can learn about the history of Tokyo regardless |
of their age or nationality.
(Diorama) West side of Ryōgoku Bridge
◆For International Visitors
Volunteer guides offer tours of the permanent exhibition areas free of charge, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Tours in Japanese, English, Chinese, Korean, French, German, and Spanish are available, depending on the availability of volunteers who speak these languages. Visitors can either request a tour on the same day or make a reservation by phone prior to a visit. For more information, please contact the General Information desk (+81-3-3626-9974). Audio guides for the permanent exhibitions are available free of charge (note: a JPY1,000 deposit is required) in Japanese, English, Chinese, and Korean. They can be borrowed on the 1st floor at the General Information and Ticket Counter or on the 3rd at the Ticket Counter. The permanent exhibition area features numerous touchscreen displays with explanations in Chinese, Korean, French, Spanish, Germany, and Russian.
◆Walking Around the Museum
The nearest train station to the museum is Ryōgoku on the JR Line or Ryōgoku on the Toei Ōedo Subway Line. The Ryōgoku area is located less than a ten-minute ride from many popular tourist spots such as Tokyo, Ueno, Asakusa, and Akihabara. The Sumida River is minutes away from the museum and you can reach Asakusa by ferry from there.
◆Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum
|The Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum, a branch of the Edo-Tokyo Museum System, is located in Koganei Park. It houses 30 historic buildings that are representative of Japanese architecture from the 17th century to the 20th century. These buildings were moved to the museum, where they have been carefully restored and preserved for display to the public. Visitors can enter and walk around several buildings and experience how their original residents used to live.||
Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum