Weekend in Tokyo Part 1: Edo-Tokyo Open-Air Architectural Museum

July 6, 2018

Ever since my Tokyo photography group had had a February meetup at the Edo-Tokyo Open-Air Architectural Museum in Musashi Koganei, I had wanted to venture up to photograph the collection of beautifully preserved Edo-era buildings, ranging from police boxes and rustic farms to elegant Western-inspired houses, offices, and shops.


When I was working in Komaki in 2010, I visited the outstanding Meiji Mura in nearby Inuyama, which similarly featured Meiji-era buildings that had been reassembled in an open-air park, including a cathedral as well as the Imperial Hotel façade designed by Frank Lloyd Wright; the museum also featured regional international foods, costumed interpreters, and concerts / themed events. It was one of my very favorite museum experiences in Japan.


Musashi Koganei was about a 2-hour trip; I had hesitated about continuing with my plans as the weather at first looked iffy (I specifically wanted to go on a clear day to get great shots), but the day ended up being beautifully clear (if blisteringly hot!). The museum is set in a beautiful wooded park that begs to be explored.















I was extremely impressed and grateful for the level of English support at the museum, ranging from roaming English language interpreters (easily spotted by their “English guide” armbands) and the fact that every building had a detailed sheet with the history and information in English.


The museum is divided into three areas, West, Center, and East. The West Zone includes a photo studio, farmhouse, architect’s office, and several elegant Western-inspired private homes (one, the Georg de LaLande house, houses a quaint European-style café with desserts, drinks, and curry).






The Center Zone features the spectacularly photogenic House of Korekiyo Takahashi, Second House of the Nishikawa Family, and the Tea Arbor“Kaisuian,” while the East Zone holds some of the most unique architecture including the beautiful copper-tiled “Maruni Shoten”Kitchenware Store, House of Uemura (with a curious prominent Star of David motif), and the Public bathhouse“Kodakara-yu,” which is said to have inspired animator Hayao Miyazaki as he was creating “Spirited Away” (Japanese title: 千と千尋の神隠し). Miyazaki-san also designed the museum’s mascot Edomaru, a cuddly green caterpillar.




I had a great time leisurely strolling (and frequently rehydrating!) through the many buildings; the Japanese private homes were spectacular, with gorgeous glassed engawas and intricate carving on the ranmas.


The museum also hosts regular monthly events and seasonal ones such as nighttime illumination for Bon Odori and fall colors.



3-7-1 Sakuracho, Koganei, Tokyo 184-0005


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