I finally got around to visiting the Edo Tokyo Museum. Pictures of my visit are available.

This is well worth planning a visit to if you come to Tokyo. It covers the  development of Tokyo from its original small fishing village, through the Edo period when it was the headquarters of the Tokugawa Shogunate, and then through its renaming as Tokyo and on into a modern metropolis with occupation and modern technology. It’s a well put together museum that doesn’t overwhelm with too many things. The guide book recommends allowing two hours for a visit. It’s possible to see the whole of the permanent exhibition in that time. There is other space for temporary exhibitions. Unlike museums such as the Victoria and Albert in London, one can review the whole museum in one go and not become burned out. A defined route through the two floors is fairly obvious and  includes a large seating area for a rest about half way through, under the shadow of the spectacular recreation of the Float of the Kanda Myoujin Shrine. There are a number of incredibly detailed 1/30th scale models of street scenes and major buildings from the early period, along with a substantial number of Shogunate artifacts, including of course swords and armour, but also including clothing, children’s toys and many documents.

The only problem for international tourists is that the explanation plaques are mostly in Japanese. Some have short versions in English (since written Japanese has a density of three times that of English and the English, where it is more than just a title, is usually about a third the length of the Japanese text, the English text is about one ninth of the explanation in Japanese). There’re maybe a few too many notebooks, letters and diaries on display (I suspect even most Japanese would find them awkward to read as they are in old fashioned handwriting using many older characters). They’re easy to skip by, though.

There’s a couple of sections of hands-on type stuff, including a money chest weighted as though filled with gold and a yoke and buckets. These are strategically placed at the points older children might be becoming a bit bored by all the “look-don’t-touch” stuff. This probably wouldn’t be much fun with younger kids, but then how many sub-8s are interested in this sort of museum anyway?