Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum

The Nihon Minka-en, a park filled with old houses from the Edo Period (1603-1868) is one of my favorite places in the Tokyo area. I’ve been there quite a few times, though, so I was happy to discover the Edo Tokyo Tatemono-en in Koganei City, west of Tokyo.
It’s similar to the Nihon Minka-en, but most of the buildings are of more recent vintage, the majority being from the 19th and 20th centuries. There are three sections, one of old, wooden Edo-Period buildings, one with a recreation of a typical street from the early 20th century, and a third with homes belonging to important people of great historical value.tatemonoenmakeup

Not only are the buildings interesting on the outside, but the museum has done a really good job of recreating what they were like inside. In the photo below, you can see an abacus and the account books in this cosmetics shop called Murakami Seikadou (notice that the kanji are all written from right to left). All of the buildings have English pamphlets with interesting descriptions of the buildings’ history, architectural characteristics, and most interestingly, details about the people who lived in them and their businesses or lives.

tatemonoen-ledgers

The photo below shows an umbrella-maker’s shop. There’s an interesting display on how they were made.

tatemonoen-umbrella-shop

A small residential street of row houses.

tatamonoen-residential-street

A stationery shop.

tatemonoenstationery

Inside a public bathhouse.

tatemonoen-bathhouse

tatemonoenflowerinterior

tatamonoen-whale-meat

tatemonoenkitchenwares

While searching for information about the Tatemonoen, I came across a couple of really interesting sites. The first is called Tokyo Lost Architecture. It’s a huge collection of photos and descriptions of pre-war buildings that have been, or are about to be destroyed. There’s an interesting photo of the Murakami Seikado building in its original location at: http://yma2.hp.infoseek.co.jp/TokyoArch/Photo/06/Himasiya.html. The main page is at: http://yma2.hp.infoseek.co.jp/TokyoArch/index.html
I also found this Flickr site with photos that are much better than mine: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sakazoh/sets/72157601595813762/

Websites:
The official site is in Japanese only: http://tatemonoen.jp/index.html
An English map and description of Koganei Park: http://www.tokyo-park.or.jp/english/park/detail_02.html
An English guide to Koganei Park: http://www.kensetsu.metro.tokyo.jp/kouen/kouenannai/park/english/koganei.pdf

Getting there:
Address: 3-7-1 Sakura-cho, Koganei-shi, Tokyo
Admission: 400 yen
Opening hours: Apr.-Sept. 9:30-5:30, Oct.-Mar. 9:30-4:30. Closed Mondays and Dec. 28-Jan. 4
There are several ways of getting there, but they all involve a train and bus trip that usually starts from Shinjuku. The train ride is a little over 20 minutes, and the bus is just five minutes. It’s pretty easy, as the buses leave from in front of the station, and if you watch out the windows, it’s obvious when you get to the park. If you want to walk from the station, it’s about 30 minutes.
By JR
Option 1: Take the JR Chuo Line to Musashi Koganei Station. Go out the North Exit and take the Seibu bus departing from  stop number two or three (get off at Koganei Koen Nishi Gushi and walk five minutes) or the Tokyo Bus from stop number four (get off at Edo Tokyo Tatemonoen Mae and walk three minutes). The fare from Shinjuku is 290 for the train and about 200 yen for the bus.
Option 2:  Take the JR Chuo Line to Higashi Koganei Station. Take the CoCo Bus (The Koganei City Community Bus) and get off at Tatemonoen Iriguchi and walk eight minutes.
By Seibu Railways
Take the Seibu Shinjuku Line to Hanakoganei Station. It takes 23 minutes from Shinjuku and costs 260 yen. Find the Minami Hanakoganei bus stop and take the bus for Seibu Koganei Eki. Get off at Koganei Koen Nishi Guchi and walk five minutes.

0 replies
  1. toranosuke
    toranosuke says:

    Thanks for posting about this. I’d never heard of either the Minka-en or the Tatemono-en. I’ll have to try to check them out the next time I am in Tokyo.

    Of course, on the other hand, one can always simply visit Kyoto, Kanazawa, Kawagoe, Kamakura or a dozen other places starting with K to see more traditional architecture… but the fact that they have it all in a single place, in a museum-like atmosphere where you can go in and explore and learn about the buildings is quite special.

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