Please Take Your Shoes Off: Edo Open Air Architecture Museum

One should ensure that when invited to a Japanese home, it is customary to take off your shoes at the entrance foyer before entering the room- failing to do so is consider as impolite. So when I decided to visit the Edo Open Air Architecture Museum, I often find myself taking off my shoes more often than the usual, good thing I decided to wear a slip on type.

Located inside Koganei Park, at the suburban area of Tokyo, by the name itself- it is an outdoor “explore as you please” kind of museum dedicated on showing the evolution of Japanese homes from the Edo times to the colonial types to the modern ones.  Occupying a seven hectare land size, roaming the architecture museum is like going on a house hunting for a whole day. You can compare it to a one giant real estate company showcasing their model houses, where you cannot help but enter each one of them and somehow be inspired and admire the aesthetic of the offered varieties.

The museum comes in a complete package. Aside from presenting the different type of houses or buildings; it offers a glimpse on the daily life or the simplicity of it back then before the widespread use of microwave ovens. Here you will find water wells, clothes hang to dry under the sun’s heat, old -type of kitchen utensils, small backyard vegetable garden and of course, a bicycle in front of each house signifying how the Japanese loves their two-wheels.  Completing the feeling of a community, you will find replicas of old train stations, post office, soy sauce shop, flower shops, cigar shops and my favorite- the grocery store with an old styled cash register and cans of sardines for sale.

What I like the most about this museum is the availability of volunteers who are willing to guide you and explain a thing or two if you speak Japanese, but if you don’t, they will just gladly signal to invite you for a tea inside one of the houses and treating you like a bonafide guest instead of another museum spectator.

With the fast-paced changes in today’s socio and economic status, it is important be reminded that once upon a time, you don’t need vacuum cleaner to clean your house. I admire the Japanese government, the museum staff and volunteers for preserving a piece of their history thru this museum, when everyone has an assumption that their country is all about robotics and bullet trains.


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