Today we had a fantastic day off and went over to the Edo Museum which covers the history of the city before it was Tokyo.

Edo as was

It was a great find, full of models and hands-on items and relatively well stocked with English explanations. This picture, however, was just in Japanese but I spotted our neighborhood name, Akasaka.

Our neighborhood in the 1700s

Apparently the area used to be one of the water sources for Edo, until the urbanization spread out enough that the water was polluted.

The museum had several different models of theaters. From life size with lanterns etc where you could rest between exhibits to amazing little scale models that show how they carried out special effects. One model had workers below the floor turning set pieces and another used mirrors to show how ghosts could be moved quickly around the stage to haunt Hamlet’s Asian cousins.

You know you feel the same when your umbrella pops out

As a water-side capital, much attention was focused on commerce and the trading routes. Any museum that can make 18th century economics that interesting in translation is commendable.

Fan and sweet shop signs, in case you get caught in a time warp

Below you can just see a small mock-up of a trading ship and here in the foreground are possibly the biggest clogs ever worn. We gather from the surrounding displays that these were used not just to fish but perhaps to also gather reeds used in bamboo screens and mats. Me, I’d rather do Western stilts– one less thing for the seaweed to tangle around.

"Lake fishing shoes"

Woodblock printing broken down

Party like it's... er... 1800 something

There was also a special exhibit going on that was sadly only in Japanese. The little bits I could understand (without taking all day to read and driving Tara bonkers), however, were tantalizing. Tokugawa Ieyasu, who founded the Tokugawa dynasty and was an all-around impressive guy, has a temple compound built after him in Nikko which apparently later shoguns would pilgrimage up to. We haven’t made it up there yet ourselves, but when we do, lemme tell you, considerably less ceremony will be involved than when they dropped by.

Catalog of guardsmen's weapons

The exhibit had a dozen or so of these paintings below, which detail the ceremonial processions on the way to Nikko, the practice ceremonies conducted ahead of time, etc. All down to where the guards and attendants would stand– in this case the red and black dots.

Buearucracy in all its glory

And what bureaucracy would be complete without more paperwork. I’m not sure why they needed them, but there were little booklets of Q&A preparation and speeches with comments written in red.

18th century talking points

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