Sunday, January 20, 2008

Edo-Tokyo Museum


Tony and I spent several hours at the Edo-Tokyo Museum. For a musuem focusing on Tokyo history from the Edo Period, it sure has a modern exterior. Inside, the top floors are very open - large enough for models and facades of various buildings. We were lucky and were able to get an English-speaking guide to walk us through the museum.

We started with the feudal era, when warlords were powerful and the government was controlled by a shogun. I got to sit in a warlord's palanquin.


We also saw many small models including a Kabuki theater, daimyo's mansion, a tiny apartment, and a shop selling woodblock prints. Apparently, woodblock prints were considered art for commoners - or rather, the samurai didn't consider it art at all. It's interesting to me that in the late 1800s, they started binding them together in books with text written on the pages - a precursor to comic books!


The museum covered up to the 1960's. There were exhibits on damage done by the Great Kanto Earthquake and on World War II. Did you know that the Japanese bombed the Western United States many times during the war? (And I don't mean Hawaii.) They launched giant, unmanned balloons. The balloons would take about four days to cross the ocean and would then drop all of their bombs. Many of the bombs fell in Washington State. I think they grossly overestimated the population density of the Western United States at the time though. Very little damage was reported, so I suspect most of the bombs knocked down a tree or two or landed in the Cascades or Rockies.
The museum also had a small stage for performances and we caught the tail-end of a lion dance and some other dance of a more recent style (below.)

video

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