I decided to go to the Tokyo-Edo Museum, which is designed to show the evolution of the city of Tokyo from the Edo period (pre-western contact) to modern Tokyo. It is well-known for its life-size recreations of historic Japanese buildings and elaborate miniature recreations.
The museum begins with an enormous room with life-size recreations of the Nihonbashi Bridge, an Edo period kabuki theatre and an early 20th century newspaper office.
One of the great things about this museum is that it tends to focus on everyday life of Japanese citizens. There are a lot of reconstructions, and contemporary artifacts that give a great picture of life during this period. I especially liked the life-size recreations of period buildings.
This is the inside of a typical house (sorry for the darkness, flash wasn’t allowed):In the right corner, the bed and blankets are piled up behind a screen. On the left in the entrance are all of the cooking kitchen supplies. Bathrooms and toilets were all outdoor and communal, so most people only had a single room.
(That was a joke Mom)
What always comes to mind in relation to Edo Japan, are the famous woodblock prints (Ukiyo-e) that were a very popular commercial art all over the world. For example, Hokusai’s famous 36 views of Mt. Fuji (I didn’t take these 2 pictures, they’re just examples):
Here is a woodblock storefront as it would have looked in the Edo period:If you look closely, you can see slight variations in the paintings (for example, the sumo wrestlers’ clothes), that show how they would be mass produced.