Edo Shitamachi Traditional Crafts Museum
Edo Shitamachi Traditional Crafts Museum 江戸下町伝統工芸館
The Edo Shitamachi Traditional Crafts Museum is a small museum in the Asakusa district of Tokyo that showcases the many and varied handicrafts that Tokyo crafts people have historically excelled in, and still do today. The works displayed are made exclusively by crafts people in Taito ward, where the museum is located.
Taito is a ward of Tokyo that, more than most other wards, preserves the atmosphere and traditions that characterized Tokyo before the Second World War. The Edo Shitamachi Traditional Crafts Museum is run by the Industrial Promotion Section of the Taito ward government office with the aim of preserving and promoting these arts and crafts that distinguish Taito ward. Therefore, in spite of including the word "traditional" and referencing the old name of the city, Edo, the museum is not all about the past, but is a center for the current-day activities of crafts people in this part of Tokyo.
The Edo Shitamachi Traditional Crafts Museum comprises two floors. The first floor has the reception area, some cases of handcrafted goods for sale, a waiting area, and a large display with the photos of dozens of the artists and craftsmen whose works are on display upstairs. The exhibition room is on the second floor, accessed by stairs (but with a stair climbing device for those unable to walk it).
The second floor exhibition room is full of cases with samples of the intricately crafted, artistically rendered handmade goods whose quality, finish, and often whimsical sense, are a hallmark of Japanese material culture. There are at least 30 different kinds of goods for perusal, such as gleaming Tokyo silverware, ukiyoe prints, Edo sashimono (a kind of furniture made entirely using dovetailing, without a single screw or nail), embroidery (shishu in Japanese), Edo osana dolls (i.e., dolls depicting children), Buddhist statues, lanterns, and kites, to name a few.
One particularly striking exhibit is a miniature model of a temple tower, showcasing the skill of temple builders, who are constantly at work renovating and repairing in Taito ward, which is home to hundreds of Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines.
Demonstrations & Lessons
A visit on Saturday or Sunday will let the visitor watch Taito wards artisans, in person, demonstrate their skills. If you live in Tokyo or are here for a while, you may also be interested in the handicraft classes held here, and which require a prior application.
10am - 8pm, every day
The Edo Shitamachi Traditional Crafts Museum is inside the covered shopping arcade called Asakusa Hisago-dori Avenue, the red archway entrance to which is right behind the huge, faceless, white-and-teal-striped WINS building.
If you're coming from Sensoji Temple, take Hanayashiki-dori, accessible from just to the left of the main temple building of Sensoji, a one minute walk.
Asakusa 2-22-13, Taito-ku, Tokyo 111-0032. Tel: 03 3842 1990