Spanning from 1603 to 1867, Japan’s Edo Period was a time of internal peace, political stability, and economic growth.
During this time, Edo (known today as Tokyo), was the biggest city in the world and the country was ruled by military Shogun. But Edo is so much more than a historical city – with its symbolic meaning and culture, the Edo Period defines what we think of today as traditional Japanese culture.
If you’re looking to immerse yourself in Japan’s Edo Period, make sure the following places are on your itinerary…
The Edo-Tokyo Museum
The Edo-Tokyo Museum allows visitors to experience the miraculous transformation of Tokyo from a feudal city to the ultra-modern capital it is today.
As soon as you enter the museum, you will be immersed in a replicated old Edo as you cross the life-size replica of the Nihonbashi Bridge. Exploring the interactive exhibits, you’ll be able to learn about various aspects of early Tokyo, including the Edo Period architecture, people, cultural heritage, political climate, and more.
Hama Rikyū Garden
Once used as a falconry site and duck hunting grounds for Shogun families, the Hama Rikyū Garden highlights a stunning contrast between old and new.
As you explore the attractive, landscaped gardens, you’ll notice several reminders of their Edo days, including a number of reconstructed duck hunting blinds, the remains of an old moat, and a reconstructed rock wall.
Although it’s well worth a visit all through the year, the Garden is most impressive between mid-February and March, when the yellow rapeseed fields, and pink and white plum trees are in full bloom.
Located just thirty minutes from central Tokyo, the town of Kawagoe in Saitama Prefecture is often referred to as Little Edo, offering the best taste of the Edo era within the vicinity of the capital.
The town’s main street is lined with traditional clay-walled warehouse styled buildings called Kurazukuri, making it reminiscent of an old town from the Edo Period.
Take a trip to Kawagoe Castle, which was originally built in 1457 and served as a home for some of the Shogun’s most loyal men. Today, the castle offers spacious tatami rooms, a garden, and pictures of cultural heritage.
Kawagoe is also home to Kitain Temple, one of the most important temples in the Greater Tokyo area and home to the only remaining structures of the former Edo Castle. You should also pay a visit to the Toki no Kane bell tower, which has been ringing its bell on the hour, every hour, since the early to mid-1600s.
Edo Wonderland Nikko Edomura
Edo Wonderland is one of the most popular Edo-era theme parks in Japan. Giving visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves in the Edo Period.
Amongst the park’s popular attractions, you’ll find a ninja experience, an indigo dyeing experience, a sword exhibit, game booths, a boat cruise, and a replica prison. Little ones can also try being a ninja, samurai, or okkapiki (an Edo-era policeman)!
Rikugi-en-Garden is a classic, early-18th-century strolling garden where you’ll find 88 scenes from history and Japanese waka.
Built for the fifth Tokugawa Shogun by a feudal lord in 1702, the garden is considered to be one of Tokyo’s most beautiful walking areas. Featuring walkways that pass over hills and stone bridges, and along trickling streams, the gardens are also home to a delightful teahouse.
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Images sourced via Flickr Creative Commons. Credit: kanegan, Kyle Hasegawa, TeteDeleart1855, Konstantin Papushin, Tanaka Juuyoh