Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum

Tokyo, Japan | C.1993

Photo Credit: Maria Carrera

Established as a branch of the Edo-Tokyo Museum in 1993, this outdoor exhibit consists of  traditional buildings preserved for public viewing. On display in Tokyo’s Koganei Park, these 30 structures are models of the Japanese experience since the Edo period (17th c.). The museum features buildings of rich cultural value that could not have been preserved in their original settings, or were lost to natural disaster, warfare, or sweeping urban development. Yet they remain important touchstones of Japanese life over the ages, and were deemed worthy of regeneration.

The sprawling park was created as a means of offering the public a rare glimpse into all facets of the country’s legacy. The space is divided into three zones, each highlighting a different aspect of Japanese architecture. From Musashino farm homes & Yamanote houses, to prestigious historic buildings, and even a recreation of a downtown, urban area.

Depicted here is what would have been a typical public bathhouse, or “Kodakara-yu.” Its original version was built in 1929 at a palace in Senju, Adachi-ku. Its luxury is evident in features such as the large Chinese-style gable and lattice ceiling in the dressing room, but one has to imagine that its longevity and preservation was solidified by The Seven Lucky Gods, carved above the entrance.

Also known as the Gods of Fortune, these deities have been worshipped by various ancient religions for thousands of years. The sole female god noted here is Benzaiten, originally the Hindu goddess of water but represented here as the Goddess of Arts and Knowledge.

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