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Best Local History & Culture in Tokyo

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Idemitsu Museum of Arts

Idemitsu Museum of Arts is located on the 9th floor in the Teigeki building. Since its 1966 opening, the Idemitsu has earned a reputation for housing excellent ceramics, the Chinese portion of which is among the most extensive to be found in Japan. The collection also includes byobu (folding screens), lacquer, painting, Chinese bronzes, scrolls, calligraphy, and tea utensils. For study and research, representative shards from various Japanese kilns are on display in a separate room. The first museum director, Sazo Idemitsu acquired this collection over a 70-year span. In addition, the Idemitsu owns more than 400 works of the French religious and expressionist painter Georges-Henri Rouault (1871-1958).

Tokyo, Giappone
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Edo-Tokyo Museum

Both history and architecture buffs will appreciate the very contemporary building balanced on its landmark, gigantic pillars. Set in a stadium-sized expanse, a model of Nihonbashi (Japan's premier bridge) separates feudal Tokyo (Edo) from modern Tokyo (since 1868). In the permanent exhibition area, you will find original documents of the Edo era. Nostalgic aspects of everyday life are depicted to scale without the restriction of display cases. Ongoing enactments of various folk arts and crafts bring Japan's rich cultural traditions to life. Do not miss the models of the Edo Castle and the Kabuki Theater. See the website for visitor information and the event calendar.

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Tokyo National Museum

The Tokyo National Museum displays a bevy of sculptures, paintings, calligraphy, archaeological objects and other decorative arts. Broadly divided into Japanese, Chinese and Korean forms, the museum's collections are nothing short of artistic preservation of Asian history and culture. Exhibitions, lectures and gallery talks are held regularly, so visitors can gain access to some valuable information about the world's largest continent. The museum also stores historical documents dating back to the 10th and 11th Centuries.

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The Center of the Tokyo Raids and War Damage

The Center of the Tokyo Raids and War Damage is located in Koto-ku, which is the place that suffered the most serious damage from the Tokyo air raids. This museum displays many pieces of history from the war, including a model of an incendiary bomb used in the war, the belongings of bombing victims, and the U.S. Army's report about the Tokyo air raid. Besides these materials, the museum sometimes holds special events. This museum gives you an opportunity to contemplate the fragility of war and peace.

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Nezu Museum

Here is another businessman's collection (Kaichiro Nezu 1860-1940) which has become a first-rate museum. Well represented are traditional Japanese art works. The museum is well known for its 14th century painting of "Nachi Waterfall", its screens (the irises by Korin) and its tea ceremony ware. There is also an excellent collection of Song and Yuan Chinese dynasty paintings. The facility itself is breathtaking with plenty of trees, a small pond and traditional sculptures dotting the landscape. Overall, this museum is guaranteed to fill you with tranquility and awe.

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Paper Museum

In 1950, the Oji Paper Manufacturing Company established this museum to display its impressive collection of paper and paper-related items. Separate exhibits show the handicraft of origami, an early apparatus for making paper and a piece of papyrus from Egypt. Toys, castles and clothing are exhibited. The facility includes a library with an extensive number of books on the art of producing paper.

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The Japan Folk Crafts Museum

Located in a wonderful traditional Japanese farmhouse, this is a must-see for lovers of Japanese folk art, all of which is handmade as well as utilitarian and aesthetic. Don't miss this excellent collection of textiles, Japanese furniture, masks, tea bowls and even bedding. Some of the items displayed here were produced by Japan's "living national treasures" - craft persons honored by the government for their cultural contributions.

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Suginami City Local History Museum

An Edo period farmhouse and a Nagaya gate are part of the permanent exhibits at this local museum. The focus is on visual documentation of the life-style and history of the local Suginami area. The local links to the Edo period--as a pleasure area, post town and farming village are shown through wood-block prints and historical documents.

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Japan Calligraphy Museum

For an aesthetic Japanese experience, visit this museum to admire some lovely examples of calligraphy. A few pieces are shown at a time, as the exhibits are changed seasonally. The main collection consists of more than 3,000 pieces, including works of Hujiwarano-Teika (one of the oldest and most famous poets in Japan). Here you can see not only calligraphy, but also calligraphic poems.

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Hasegawa Machiko Art Museum

A delightful respite from Jomon pottery would be a visit to Machiko Hasegawa's bright and appealing repertoire of comics. She is the author of Sazaesan, one of Japan's most popular cartoons. All the characters in her work are named after marine products and she is well known for depicting postwar social conditions through the viewpoint of common people. Machiko Hasegawa has opened a museum to show not only her own work, but also her personal collection of Western pieces—one Chagall included! An audiovisual room provides entertainment for children, the backbone of her audience.

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Adachi Ward Museum

The miscellaneous items that this museum has gathered include woodblock prints, ancient Buddhist-related sculptures, a replica of an Edo Period house and an assortment of excavated ceramic shards. For something slightly different, do not overlook the colorful toys. A welcoming tea-house and enchanting garden lie behind the contemporary building that houses the museum's eclectic collection.

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Setagaya Literary Museum

Since this museum was built, it has been promoting the culture in the Setagaya Ward. Many artists and novelists have connections with this place. In the museum, there are over 90,000 works including materials such as letters and manuscripts. Here you can enjoy not only literature, but also movies and music. Besides permanent exhibitions, they also have temporary exhibitions which change regularly.

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