My first full day in Tokyo was spent at the Edo-Tokyo Open Air Museum in Koganei (not to be confused with the Nihon Minkaen Open Air Museum in Kawasaki). I woke up early since I intended to at least be on the train heading to Koganei before morning rush hour struck. I didn’t plan to go to Shinjuku during my visit to Tokyo, unless it was part of a train transfer, so I took my time looking around the station while there.
I was coming from my hostel in Akihabara on the JR Yamanote Line, and had to get to Hanakoganei Station on the Seibu Shinjuku Line, but I had no idea that Shinjuku had more than one train station (the standard Shinjuku Station, Seibu Shinjuku Station and another one). So there I was, lost in the JR station and trying to figure out where I had to go and before I realised anything, I was caught in the midst of a mass of people. Caught in Shinjuku Station at rush hour! Not recommended, but it was exciting, to say the least.
Somehow I finally found the train I wanted and got to Koganei without any further incidents, but by the time I arrived the last bus of the morning reaching the museum had already left. So I had to walk, obviously. Since I’m a great planner, I’d brought a map with me just in case with some instructions on how to get there and, although I thought it would be a longer walk, the 45 minutes from the station to the museum passed very quickly since the town itself was so stunning and beautiful. I was almost sad when I arrived to the museum since the walk was over. Needless to say I walked back to the station after the museum visit.
After walking down a road next to the park thinking the entrance to the museum was close-by, I soon figured out that I was on the wrong track. You have to cross through the middle of the park in order to get to the museum; the entrance to the park is very obvious.
The park has a couple of water fountains, many paths to walk through, and some convenient bathrooms just before the museum entrance. It was my first experience with squat toilets in Japan (which I call ‘Hanako toilet’ because of the Toire no Hanako-san Japanese urban legend), although I’d used them before in Indonesia. I think I might be one of the few foreigners that don’t mind the squat toilets.
Anyway, I finally made my way into the museum after buying the Grutt Pass at the counter (I really recommend the Grutt Pass if you’ll be visiting a few museums in the Tokyo area, it pays off right away!). I figured I might as well start in order so I headed off to the first building in the museum.
For those who haven’t heard of the Edo-Tokyo Open Air Museum before, it’s an enclosed area where they’ve relocated many historical buildings dating from the Edo era all the way to post-Second World War. I first heard of it because this is the place where Hayao Miyazaki received inspiration to create the bathhouse town in his movie Spirited Away. If you like buildings, Japanese culture and history or Spirited Away, then I couldn’t recommend enough a visit to this museum.
Also they have a great gift shop. I could probably make another post saying ‘junk I bought in Koganei’, but I think the point stands without having to give a detailed description. I wish I bought more tabi socks though, they are incredibly comfortable and I wear them nearly every day even now.
I’ll leave it here as part 1 so you don’t have to scroll down too much, here’s part 2!