Didem Doğan

Edo Tokyo Museum

Taking the Ginza line from Akasaka Mitsuke station, I am heading to north, and getting off at Ryogoku stop. My destination is Edo Tokyo Museum. Lucky that there are signs starting at the stop which point to it; otherwise it would be a problem to find the way around here. 

As soon as you enter the museum a childish cheerfulness takes over you, as if you entered into an ancient Tokyo made with toys. A wooden bridge, wooden houses, palaces, and toy figures which are the replicas of the old town in this two-storey museum paint the daily life in the Edo-period Tokyo and you are walking in this painting. A voluntary guide is giving me a tour. 

The Edo period is the era of stability which lasted around 250 years, between 1600 and 1868. Tokyo, i.e., ‘Ta (u) kyo,’ means the capitol city of the East whereas the actual capitol city is Kyoto, i.e. ‘kyo’ which means capitol and ‘to’ means ‘city’.

The social hierarchy of the period goes like this: ‘Tennou’ (King), ‘Shogun’ (General), ‘Samurai’ (Warrior), ‘Daimyo’ (Japanese Federal Ruler). I am thinking of the social strata in the Ottoman Empire, which went down from ‘padişah’ (sultan), to ‘sadrazam’ (grand vizier), janissaries (warriors), and ‘bey’ (lord) which had a similar structure common in traditionally ruled empires.

There are not many buildings left in the present Tokyo which date back to the Edo period; many places were destroyed first in the great fire, and then in the Second World War and only some parts of the National Palace are open to public. That is why this museum brings to you a replica of historical Tokyo in a very entertaining way. 

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