The Edo-Tokyo Museum

The Edo-Tokyo Museum in the Ryogoku district of Tokyo is a museum that details the history and culture of Tokyo during the Edo period.  The museum is in a multi-level building with a very interesting structure.  The main entrance is up that red escalator on the left.

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One of the first things you see after entering the museum is a life-sized replica of the Nihonbashi, the bridge which has crossed the Nihonbashi river since the 17th century.  The first wooden bridge was constructed in 1603.  The Nihonbashi was rebuilt with stone and a steel frame in 1911.

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Looking over the rail of the bridge, you can see a life-sized replica of an old Newspaper office.  You can get on the seat of the penny farthing, the bike with a giant front wheel.  It doesn’t go anywhere, however, which was very disappointing.

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On the far side of the bridge is an area with models of castles and other buidings from the Edo period.

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I didn’t take very good notes as to what the models represented, but they’re incredibly detailed.  They reminded me a lot of Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg.

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Look, a tiny palace!

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The detail on these buildings and courtyards is extraordinary.

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This demonstration involves lifting heavy buckets on a pole.  However, the metal guides prevent you from lifting them too far, which makes it even more awkward.  I tried this, and it made a terrible noise when I extended the ropes too far.

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Boats! Boats! Boats!

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I deeply regret not taking the time to photograph the placards that explain what these items are.  It’s been four months already since I left Japan, and the best I can come up with now is, “ooh, tiny Japanese people!”

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Royalty may get a comfortable seat, but I can’t help but think the whole contraption would be faster if it were a little bit less ornate.

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Some sections of the museum covered more recent times.  I thought the Subaru 360 was kind of neat.

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The 2-door rear-engine 360 was Subaru’s first production automobile.  It was manufactured from 1958 to 1971.

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The next two pictures are a scale model of a type of hot air balloon bomb that was sent out by Japan during World War II.  The Fire Balloon (fūsen bakudan) was a hydrogen balloon with a variety of bombs and incendiary devices attached.  Used in conjunction with the Pacific jet stream, the Fire Balloon was the first device to have intercontinental range.

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Between 1944 and 1945, the Japanese Navy launched over 9,000 fire balloons toward North America.  About three hundred were confirmed to have reached the United States and Canada, but most of them caused little or no damage.  Six people (five children and a woman) became the only deaths due to enemy action to occur on mainland America during World War II.  One of the Fire Balloons landed near Bly, Oregon, and one of the children triggered the bomb.   The site where this happened is marked by a stone munment in the Mitchell Recreation Area in the Fremont-Winema National Forest.  The Canadian War Museum, in Ottawa, Ontario, has a full, intact balloon on display.

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This is a Model T used as a taxi in old Tokyo.

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This is a replica of  the Ryōunkaku, Japan’s first western-style skyscraper. It stood in the Asakusa district of Tokyo from 1890 until the Great Kanto earthquake of 1923.  The earthquake destroyed the upper floors, and the tower was so severely damaged that it had to be demolished.

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This sign shows how the tower looked after the earthquake, and details the subsequent demolition of the tower.

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The Boodo Khan is one of Sony’s earliest audio systems.  The Boodo Khan name was also applied to early Walkman models, but this is a component system for home audio.  Collectors and audiophiles still rave about the audio quality on these boxes.

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This is a very pretty phone booth.  I think it looks a little bit like a lighthouse.

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Have you ever been to the Edo-Tokyo Museum?

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