Tokyo weekend escapes: Get spirited away at Edo-Tokyo Open-Air Architectural Museum

House of Korekiyo Takahashi (Edo-Tokyo Open-Air Architectural Museum)
House of Korekiyo Takahashi (Edo-Tokyo Open-Air Architectural Museum)

Tokyo weekend escapes: Get spirited away at Edo-Tokyo Open-Air Architectural Museum

by Sarah B. Hodge
Stripes Japan

Tokyo is famous for its avant-garde fashion, themed restaurants and cafes, shopping and nightlife, but beyond the neon lights and urban sprawl, the Greater Tokyo area offers some fantastic inexpensive escapes that will allow you to recharge and relax.

Edo-Tokyo Open-Air Architectural Museum features around 30 reconstructed buildings, many dating to the Meiji Period, relocated from around Tokyo. Ranging from rustic farms, traditional homes, and bathhouses to elegant Western-inspired houses, offices, and shops, the museum (affiliated with the Edo-Tokyo Museum) is set in a beautiful wooded park in Musashi Koganei, about a 2-hour train ride from Yokosuka.

The museum is divided into three areas. 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 striking Jisho-in Mausoleum, 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, Kawano Shoten oil-paper umbrella wholesale store, and the public bathhouse Kodakara-yu. Several buildings at the museum, most notably the bathhouse, are said to have inspired animator Hayao Miyazaki as he was creating his Academy Award-winning “Spirited Away.” Miyazaki-san also designed the museum’s mascot Edomaru, a cuddly green caterpillar that appears around the museum as well as on merchandise available in the museum gift shop.

The museum hosts regular monthly events and seasonal ones such as nighttime illumination for Bon Odori and fall colors. I was extremely impressed at the level of English support, including roaming English-speaking volunteer guides and the fact that every building had a detailed sheet with the building’s history and information translated into English. I greatly enjoyed exploring and look forward to my next visit!


Edo-Tokyo Open-Air Architectural Museum

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

Hours: April - September: 9:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.  October - March: 9:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., closed Mondays and on New Year’s

Access: Musashi-Koganei Station (JR Chuo Line, take bus from Bus Stop #2 or #3 to Koganei-Koen Nishiguchi)

Admission: Adults 400 yen, children free


The museum’s website features 360-degree virtual reality tours of each building, including spaces normally closed to the public. (Wearing slip-on shoes is highly recommended as you are required to take off your shoes to enter most buildings)

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