explore fukagawa

Fukagawa Edo Museum – replica old Tokyo town

The Fukagawa Edo Museum is a museum dedicated to old Tokyo, just as the Shitamachi museum in Ueno park and the Edo-Tokyo Museum in Ryogoku. It is a replica of a village during the late Edo period (1603-1868), with various types of houses and features a canal and a fire watchtower. The concept of this museum is to let you relive how life was like in an Edo town, rather different than the Edo-Tokyo museum in Ryogoku, which takes a much broader approach to Tokyo history. It is more closely related to the Shitamachi museum, with the Fukagawa Edo Museum being more visually interesting as it has more houses and you can spend more time walking around and exploring the environment in which the common Edo person lived. However, you really need a guide that can give you more explanation on what it all means as there are not that many information panels.

Luckily, I was approached by a kind Japanese guide that offered to give me explanations in English, just as was the case in the Shitamachi museum. It appears they are really very keen on giving foreigners that are interested in historical Tokyo a good time.

When I was visiting, there was a performance going on of shamisen players and they dimmed the lights, making the visit a bit of a surreal experience (even though it was in the middle of the afternoon). In fact, the entire village goes through a day cycle every 45 minutes in order that during your visit you will likely see a sunrise and sunset. I guess that during a performance this day cycle is slightly altered, so keep that in mind.

The town is built on the model of the Sagacho part in Fukagawa, a merchant and residential area that used to be located at the very location of this museum. While the replications are very well done, I feel that at the same time they look too slick. I guess an actual town in Edo did not look as clean as this. I guess that as a traveler looking for an authentic experience you need to look beyond that.

What makes the museum interesting are all the little details in each house, the tatami, the futons, the earthenware, and as a bonus the cat sounds including one cat on one of the roofs. You can also enter each house and if you want to sit down for a while you can do so, just to take in the atmosphere.

Tea-stall and tempura stand on the square.

The following 4 items you should definitely check out:

  • Fertilizer wholesale store: As this merchant town was close to big and small waterways, many large stores were located here, one of them an impressive fertilizer store.
  • The details in between the residential houses: in between the houses (called nagaya) you can find a well, toilet and garbage disposal areas to give you a glimpse of the daily life in this Edo town.
  • Tea-stall: Under the watchtower is square with a tea-stall (called Mizuchaya), where one would go to relax and have some tea. There are also other stalls such as the famous Edo era fast food: tempura! Unfortunately it is not for sale.
  • Boathouse: At the riverside you have a large boathouse (called Funayado), the place to drop off and pick up customers for the boats.

Inside one of the houses

In practice

1-3-28 Shirakawa, Koto-ku, Tokyo

Closest station:
Kiyosumi-Shirakawa Station – 3 minutes walk (Hanzomon line, Toei Oedo Line)

Opening hours: 9:30-17:00. Closed every 2nd and 4th Monday of the month. Also closed during the end of year/new year holidays: 29 December – 3 January. It is also sometimes closed for inspection or other works, check the website before you visit.

Entrance fee: JPY 400. Children JPY 50. Other fees apply for groups and disabled.

Web: https://www.kcf.or.jp/fukagawa/ (in Japanese)

Why visit? Walk through a full replica of an Edo town.

Name in Japanese: 深川江戸資料館