Tokyo Diaries – Sakura Wars Koganei, Edo-Tokyo Open Air Museum

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The discoveries just never stop.

Today was my last big sakura excursion (unless I decide to head up to the mountains next weekend along with half of Tokyo) so I wanted to try somewhere I hadn’t been before.  Koganei Park, about half an hour West on the Chuo Line, seemed like a good bet.  It’s huge, historically peaks a bit later than central Tokyo, and as a bonus features the open-air branch of the Edo Tokyo Museum, with many historic buildings from the past three Centuries.

Despite a few unpredicted rain showers, it was a hell of a day – one of the best I’ve spent in Tokyo, no exaggeration.  The blossoms at the park were still close to peak, and there were over 1500 trees clustered throughout the huge area.  What really impressed me was the sheer size of some of them – really old, majestic cherry trees.  It was also a much more family-oriented vibe than the rowdy central Tokyo parks.  About the only downside in fact where the abundance of cyclists, some of whom were a bit reckless.  In the park I had a couple of rare sightings – both a cat and a rabbit (separately, not Ryo-ohki) on a leash.

As great as the sakura were, the museum (with a logo designed by Miyazaki Hayao, a big fan who said the museum was a major inspiration for Spirited Away) was every bit their equal.   I’m a sucker for old buildings, but this was easily one of my three or four favorite museum visits anywhere (and all for ¥400).  If you have any interest in Japanese history or architecture (they have Western buildings as well) this really is a must-see.

These are some beautiful buildings, in a wide range of styles from different eras.  For someone who has headroom issues even in modern Japanese buildings it was impossible not to notice how low the doorways were in the old ones.  They’re all lovingly maintained and well-signed in English, with an excellent English guide map available.  A first-class museum experience in every way.  As a bonus, on the way back to the station I stumbled across this adorable little Inari Shrine on a residential side street.

On the way home I stopped off at the new “Asagaya Anime Street” under the JR tracks, near Asagaya Station – where many anime studios are based.  That includes Madhouse, who have a small shop in the new complex – which is roughly a 100-meter stretch of about 15 storefronts.  It’s mostly otaku-themed cafes and such, with the Madhouse shop being the only place that really interested me.  They have an interesting if small range of goods for sale (no photos allowed) but sadly, they charge ¥500 to see their main exhibit – and to pay ¥500 to see an exhibit that was literally the same size as my small apartment just didn’t sit well with me.  I’m not sure exactly what was in there though I did see one Hunter X Hunter poster from the outside – maybe I’ll bite the bullet and pay up next time.  It was the only real disappointment of the day – though as consolation, I did chance upon the very handsome Asagaya Shinmeigu Jinja, the largest Shrine in Tokyo dedicated to Amaterasu Herself.

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  1. R

    Jealous. So so jealous.

    On the bright side, I'm taking note on all the interesting locations you post that I think I'd be interested in so that I can visit them too next time I go to Japan. All of my previous trips have been with tours, nothing like the small corner of the city shrines or out of the way parks and temples, which I love, so that's a bunch as always for posting these!

  2. One of the reasons I do it…

    Japan – like most places – is far better when you choose your own adventure. I'm not a fan of organized tours.

  3. K

    'Japan – like most places – is far better when you choose your own adventure. I'm not a fan of organized tours."

    Completely agree and Japan is such a safe and easy country to travel around that a tour doesn't even seem necessary.

  4. G

    People actually walk their bunnies like that in Japan?..I find that adorable but slightly odd. Then again, this is Japan we are talking about.
    Ahh sakura, as beautiful as ever. I'm a sucker for old buildings too! (or anything old for that matter……I love visiting tombs…lol). I always feel that historical sites, with all the stories they contain, are some of the most magical places on earth.

    Thanks for sharing Enzo! ^^ I dream of visiting Japan one day.

  5. You will, don't worry. As for rabbits I confess I've never seen one on a leash before, here or elsewhere, so I don't know that I'd call it common.

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