Sunday, September 06, 2009

It's Showa Time! (江戸東京たてもの園)

You know what's all the rage in Japan these days? The Showa Period*! It seems that in the hustle and bustle of modern-day Tokyo, people are becoming increasingly nostalgic for those simpler, bygone days.

In particular, candies, toys, and advertising images from the
Showa 30's and 40's (mid 1950s-1960s) are slowly creeping back into the popular culture. I've heard that there are many notoriously hard-to-find "secret bars" in Shibuya that display memorabilia and serve popular drinks from the period.

Wanting to relive my fictional formative years in Japan, I took a visit to the
Edo-Tokyo Open-Air Architectural Museum this past weekend. The museum is located about 30 minutes outside of Shinjuku.

Since the
Edo Period, many of Tokyo's historical buildings have been destroyed by fires, floods, and earthquakes. Many more are constantly threatened by economic development and the push towards architectural modernity. Thus, the Open-Air Architectural Museum was established in 1993 with the purpose of relocating, maintaining, and preserving these snapshots of the city's past.

The museum is actually a 17-acre outdoor park, populated with some 30 different buildings. The building exteriors are all original and have been restored to their traditional glory. The interiors are period-perfect re-creations, featuring the appropriate furnishings from the time.

I enjoyed my time strolling the grounds and would definitely recommend a trip. Since visitors are free to enter and explore any of the buildings on-site, the museum presents an interesting opportunity to step-in, touch, and physically interact with the past.


*The Showa Period lasted from 1926 - 1989.

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