Tokyo Museums

Yushukan Museum at Yasukuni Shrine This war museum is interesting and controversial as it attempts to justify Japan’s militarism and expansionist ambition across Asia in the years leading up to World War II. It will certainly help you understand Japan’s […]

Yushukan Museum at Yasukuni Shrine
This war museum is interesting and controversial as it attempts to justify Japan’s militarism and expansionist ambition across Asia in the years leading up to World War II. It will certainly help you understand Japan’s right-wing minority, which sometimes protests against the American military bases here. We will be expanding this entry. In the meantime here’s an explanation of the museum. Hours: 9-5:30 summer, 9-5 winter. Admission: ¥800 adults, ¥500 teens, ¥300 younger children. Address:  3-1-1 Kudankita, Chiyoda-ku , Tokyo 102-8246
Tel: 03-3261-0996. GPS: 35.6935, 139.7438

The Japanese Sword Museum
The Japanese Sword Museum offers a unique opportunity to see some of Japan’s ancient samurai swords and national treasures. The museum has over 120 swords and sword fittings on display, some dating back to the 10th century.  Following WWII, Japan’s post-war military laws prohibited ownership of weapons and many Japanese swords were confiscated and destroyed. It was during this period that the Japanese sword faced its greatest crisis— the art of sword making was forbidden—and many priceless ancient swords were in danger of being destroyed. Some of Japan’s most important swords were hidden or taken out of the country so they could be preserved. When Japan’s post-war laws were changed, many swords were removed from hiding and returned to Japan. American families donated some of the swords on display. All of the swords on display in the Japanese Sword Museum fall into one of three categories: important art objects, valuable cultural properties, or National Treasures. Admission is ¥500 for Adults; ¥300 for members and students; and children are free.

TRAIN DIRECTIONS: Take the Odakyu Line from Shinjuku Station to the second stop, Sangubashi Station. From there, the museum is a short 10-minute walk. Go left out of the station, up the hill and follow the sidewalk along the east side of the Shuto Expressway toward Shinjuku. After about 200 meters, you will see a street leading through a parking lot under the expressway. Turn left on this street under the underpass. Turn right just past the parking lot and follow the street as it winds left. The museum building is a short distance ahead on the left side of the street. Hours: 9am-4pm, closed Mondays and December 28-January 4. Telephone?   – Roger Eggert, date?

Transportation Museum
Originally a train museum, the Transportation Museum will delight train buffs! Visitors can see and feel everything from an early Emperor’s train to the modern “bullet” train, the Shinkansen. Climb in the engineer’s seat of an old steam locomotive, then sit in a wooden passenger car. Other original vehicles and modes of transport are also collected and exhibited at the museum. By viewing the collection of important documents and seeing original models from the history of railways, automobiles, ships and airplanes, you can observe the development of each vehicle and its importance to society. There are also special events commemorating the sea, the Day of Aviation, New Year’s Day, Children’s Day and summer holidays. Admission fees are ¥250 for adults and ¥150 for children 4 – 12 years. Groups of more than 25 receive a 20% discount.

TRAIN DIRECTIONS: The museum is very close to Ochanomizu station. The station is the second stop after Shinjuku on the Chuo Line. Go out the right side and walk along the right side of the tracks in the direction the train is heading. After three blocks, you will see old trains on your left which make up the outdoor part of the museum. Hours: 9:30 am – 5:00 pm daily, except Monday. Last admission 4:30 pm. Closed December 29 – January 3; if a legal holiday that falls on a Sunday gets celebrated the following Monday, the museum is also open on those days.   – Carol Ingmanson, Luann Myers, date?

Korakuen Amusement Park & Koishikawa Korakuen Park
This area in Tokyo’s Bunkyo Ward is famous as a sports and amusement center with a baseball stadium, the Tokyo Dome (or Big Egg), and Korakuen Amusement Park. Popular attractions are the variety of imported rides and live stage shows. Hours are 10:00 am – 9:00 pm and admission is ¥ l,400 for adults, ¥700 for kids. Admission, plus 10 attractions: adults, ¥3,200; kids, ¥2,500. The Tokyo Dome’s Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is open 10am-5pm (adults ¥350, kids ¥150).

park by merri keverTo the west of the stadium and park, in stark contrast to the busy entertainment area, is the original Korakuen now called Koishikawa Korakuen, a landscaped garden built in the 17th century. Construction of the garden was begun in 1629 by Tokugawa Yorifusa, and continued by his son, Mitsukuni, until it was completed 30 years later. The Chinese scholar, Chu Shun-shui, helped design the garden and introduced a strong Chinese influence. Among the many scenic spots are the miniature copy of the dyke of Saiko in China; the Shiraito no Taki, a waterfall which resembles a screen of white threads; a small hill modeled after Loshan in Merri kever park photoChina; the Kuhachiya sake house, and the Tokujido Shrine, built in 1630. There are a number of bridges in the park, from replicas of the Togetsu-kyo and Tsukenkyo bridges in Kyoto to the very simple Yatsuhashi zigzag plank bridge and Sawatari steppingstone bridge. A very special bridge is the Engetsukyo, so called because a full moon is formed by the arch of the bridge and its reflection in the water.

The garden is open 9:00 am – 5:00 pm and has a ¥300 entrance fee. Maps show two walking routes. For detailed explanations, a bilingual booklet can be purchased for ¥300.  In the fall come to see the plum blossoms.  – photos by Merri Kever, March 2014

Koishikawa korakuen by merri keverTRAIN DIRECTIONS: Ride the Ome Line to Tachikawa, and change to the Chuo Line. Transfer at Yotsuya to the Sobu Line toward Ichigaya. Get off at Iidabashi Station, the second stop. Head left out the East Exit, then right over the multi-branching pedestrian bridge, following the signs in English. Once across the intersection and facing the station, walk left about 2 blocks, make a left and walk down past the JapanChina Friendship Institute and a hotel. The entrance to Koishikawa Korakuen is within the near corner of cement walls on the right.

To stroll around the Tokyo Dome and Egg City Plaza afterward, exit right out of the park, then turn right at the big street and Marunouchi subway Korakuen station. The amusement park will be on the left and the stadium on the right.  – Barbara Kirkwood, Teresa Negley, date?

Bonsai Museum
Opened in 1994, the Bonsai Museum is the first museum dedicated to bonsai. Exhibits change about every 10 days to reflect the best seasonal variations. The museum maintains a collection of over 300 bonsai; their signature piece is a 500-year old pine bonsai. The museum also houses a large collection of rare ukiyo-e (woodblock) prints, displays of antique pots from Japan and China, and a lovely open-air rooftop garden. Admission: ¥800 for adults and ¥500 for students. See Bonsai Town under the Arts & Crafts section for more bonsai information.

TRAIN DIRECTIONS: take the Ome/Chuo Line from Fussa Station to Shinjuku. You may have to transfer at Tachikawa to catch a Tokyo-bound train. At Shinjuku, change to the JR Soubu Line and go towards Tokyo. Exit at the Ichigaya Station (between Yotsuya and Idabashi). Go out Exit A2 and turn right on Nihon TV Street (walking uphill, away from the moat). Take the first left (a narrow road with no stoplight), and the museum will be on your right. You’ll see lion statues guarding the entrance. The museum is just a 1-minute walk from Ichigaya Station. Hours:10:00 am – 5:00 pm, closed Mondays (Tuesday, if Monday is a national holiday). Telephone: 03-3262-1640, – Kristen Marriott 11/01

Edo-Tokyo Metropolitan Museum
The Edo-Tokyo Metropolitan Museum is located behind the Kokugikan Sumo Stadium. Walk up the steps to a huge concrete plaza with a few ticket booths and then ride up the enclosed escalator. The museum is different from most in Tokyo because it also includes the eras during and after World War II. The theme is the transition from feudal Edo to modern Tokyo, starting with a stroll across the old Nihombashi Bridge at one end of the Ginza. After viewing scrolls and castletown exhibits, you can peek into the lives of average Edo residents, recreated in life-size models. You can also see a Kabuki stage up close before moving into the Meiji period. Remember to look under your feet at a glassed-covered exhibit. For a ¥3,000 deposit, radio headsets can be rented which narrate more or less the same descriptions provided in English near each exhibit (be sure to get a brochure of the museum in English). Spacious, dark, and air conditioned, the museum is a good place to go on a hot or rainy day. Admission is ¥500 for adults and ¥250 for students. If you’re hungry, there is a coffee shop with a skyline view of Tokyo on the top floor in the museum in addition to a Japanese style restaurant. Then on the ground floor where you exit the museum, there is another restaurant just next to the gift shop.

TRAIN DIRECTIONS: take the Ome/Chuo Line to Ochanomizu, cross the platform and take the yellow Sobu Line three stops to Ryogoku. Depart the station via the central exit and turn right. The large rounded concrete building in front of you is Kokugikan, the sumo stadium, and to the right is the museum. Hours: 10am – 6pm, closed Mondays. Telephone?  – Teresa K Negley, directions confirmed 05/02

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