Edo-Tokyo Museum#9 in Best Things To Do in Tokyo
For a greater understanding of Tokyo's evolution, head to the gigantic Edo-Tokyo Museum. This expertly designed museum showcases the city's history with large- and small-scale models chronicling Tokyo's architectural transformation as well as recreating Japanese life through the centuries (exhibits with statues recreate cultural practices and norms of the time). Here, travelers can walk through Tokyo's humble origins (via the life-sized Nihonbashi Bridge) in the early Edo Period to the Meiji Restoration (the period where Japan transitioned from traditional to a more modern society, influenced by western principles), through the subsequent industrial revolution, past the devastation of the World Wars and into today's modern metropolis. In addition to models of all shapes and sizes, the museum also features historical and cultural relics visitors can observe up close, including traditional kimono gowns and woodblock prints.
Overall, travelers were delighted with all that the Edo-Tokyo Museum had to offer, with many saying they spent nearly half a day here. Visitors described the museum as incredibly informative and interesting and appreciated the vast amount of history on display. Travelers recommended taking advantage of the complimentary museum tour guides on-site (available in multiple languages). Tours span an hour and a half to two hours and reservations are accepted from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the 6th-floor Voluntary Guide counter.
The Edo-Tokyo Museum is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, and open until 7:30 p.m. on Saturday. Admission costs 600 yen (about $5) for adults. The Edo-Tokyo Museum is located near the Sumida River right next to the Ryogoku subway station. For more information, check out the museum's website.
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#1 Tokyo National Museum
If you're looking to learn a little (or a lot) about Japan's history, the Tokyo National Museum is the place to go. This museum is one of the country's most expansive, housing about 116,000 pieces of art and artifacts that cover the longest recorded history of Japan. Strolling through the halls of its numerous buildings, you'll spot relics such as samurai armor and swords (a traveler favorite), delicate pottery, kimonos, calligraphy, paintings, and much more, some of which are designated as national treasures and Important Cultural Properties by the Japanese government. In addition to artifacts from Japan's history, you'll also find pieces from all across the Asian continent, including Buddhist scrolls that date all the way back to 607.
Travelers were impressed with all that the Tokyo National Museum has to offer. Even some who admitted they aren't museum people enjoyed the variety of unique artifacts on display. Travelers appreciated that the museum featured English translations, something that some visitors noticed other Tokyo top attractions lacked (think the Ghibli Museum). Museum goers also say that there so much to see in the Tokyo National Museum that you probably need an entire day if you want to get through everything. If you don't have enough time to do this (or just don't want to) the best thing to do is get a map of the museum beforehand and pick what you want to do before you venture in.