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Apologies to this woman, who is most definitely NOT a ghost from the past!

In some places, the past can seem eerily present, like a woman just out of view whispering by on quiet, slippered feet. The Edo Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum, which is part of the Edo-Tokyo Museum I introduced in another blog, is one of these places. You don’t look at displays so much as live them, walking through buildings that have been recreated down to the last detail and experiencing a bygone era in the present day.

While there are some buildings from the Edo Period, my favorite are actually those from during Meiji, the period just following when Japan was experiencing unprecedented Western influence. It was the period dramatized fairly well in the movie, “The Last Samurai,” except that the French were more important than Tom Cruise (er, America) at that point! But there were class-distinctions and internal frictions galore, the stuff good dramas are made of.

Well, let’s take a photographic journey of just a few of the delights the museum has to offer!

Although a dwelling might appear quite “Japanese” on the outside due to the use of wood, etc…

…during Meiji the upper-classes would often decorate the inside in a European style. It’s always seemed rather forced to me…

…especially in the cases of the extremely rich. Opulence was the norm for some, I guess, although I’d exchange this for a nice Japanese woodcut anyday!

I’m not exactly sure when trolleys were introduced into Japan, but aside from the “kanji” alphabet, we could be in old-time San Francisco.

This is an old-style “sento,” or public bath, reserved for the upper crust. Today Japanese still love public baths, minus the class-consciousness of yesteryear.

Despite Western influences, though, there were still plenty of people living ordinary, very traditional lives during this time. I’ve gathered a few photos from their expertly-rendered lives below–check them out!

I’ve been to a village where all the roofing is like this–absolutely amazing, not to mention impossible. How do they do it?!

An active fire-pit for cooking, right inside the building! At least two of my friends actually live in homes where these are still used.

They pulled all the stops in the recreation of this street, right down to the full clotheslines! I wonder if the clothes are period-perfect?

Japan is truly a mix of modern and traditional styles

The Edo Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum is divided into various zones, so that you can experience a wide variety of building styles and periods side-by-side! I hope this little tour whet your appetite, and I hope that you’ll consider visiting Japan (and the museum!) someday. Learn more about the Open Air Museum at

Have fun!

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