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Exhibitions and Events

First Floor Exhibition Space - Shitamachi Lifestyles and Living Spaces

The first floor exhibition space is a little piece of Tokyo's old shitamachi. While inside the permanent exhibit, visitors can imagine they are inside a tiny slice of Tokyo that has managed to escape the cataclysmic Great Kanto Earthquake (September 1, 1923), and has preserved the old ways to the present day.

The large shop that faces the street is a manufacturer and wholesaler of hanao straps for traditional footwear. This reproduction shows the work area and reception area of a typical merchant's house from times before the Great Kanto Earthquake. Along a narrow lane nearby are a row of tenement house apartments and a communal well. The (imaginary) residents of the apartments are a mother and daughter who run a candy shop, and a coppersmith with a workshop. Each home contains the objects the residents would have used in their everyday lives.

Almost all of the objects on display are things that were in actual use at one time. In the museum, these are placed in the location where they would have been used and can be handled by visitors. By changing the display items in accordance with the season, repeat visitors can get a sense of how life in the shitamachi varied over the course of the year. By experiencing these things in their native context, it's possible to fully appreciate the value and meaning of the humble items.

Tenement Alley
In Front of the Hanao Manufacturing /
Wholesaling Shop
Inside the Shop

Pump Well
Inside the Tenement
A Coppersmith's Workshop

Second Floor Exhibition Space - Life in the Shitamachi Region

In the second floor exhibition space, a variety of documents and objects are on display: materials related to the shitamachi area and Tokyo's Taito-ku in particular, tools and toys that were used in daily life, and displays that are changed regularly to reflect the current season and accompanying traditional events.

Taito-ku contains some iconic Tokyo locales, including Ueno Park and Asakusa. These places have changed in many ways over the ages. Not only the landscape, but also the lifestyles of the shitamachi people have changed dramatically. A great number of things in the shitamachi area have been forgotten, destroyed, or altered, be it the streetscape or the tools people use in their daily life.

The materials on display here are things that are no longer part of life today but which can tell us about how the shitamachi people lived in a time not so long ago but very different from today.

Play with the old toys and experience a
childhood in old shitamachi.
The Sento Bandai
The bandai(attendant's booth) was set at the door of
the sento (bathhouse), where the attendant could
watch over the entire facility and collect fees.
The booth on display is one that was actually used
in a Taito-ku sento.