Location: Edo-Tokyo Museum

 Are you interested in the daily life of a Tokyo resident during the Edo period? I have just the place for you! This large, impressive museum is located in the nice bridge-like building you see above.
 Once buying your ticket on the ground floor, you head up into the main exhibits, which take up two large floors. You start by crossing a reproduction of an Edo-period bridge.
 Beneath the bridge is an area used for traditional performances. I was able to see some singing and dancing during my visit.
 The other end of the ground floor contains large reproductions of buildings found in Tokyo-period Tokyo. Tokyo-period? That would be the period after the Edo period. Some of these buildings can be entered or viewed.

 But you start upstairs, where you'll find dioramas, displays, artifacts, and some interactive exhibits. You can sit in this palanquin, though you won't be traveling far as it's secured in place.

 These ladies are lined up to do some vocal performances for a musical show.
 The exhibits include life-size examples of daily life in Edo period Tokyo.

 There are plenty of small dioramas to give a bigger picture of what structures looked like and how they were used, as well as a look at how people dressed.

 As a card collector, I had to snap a photo of these old menko cards. It's easy to find modern reproductions (quite inexpensively), but old ones (even post-World War II) are quite rare at times.

 Now we move into the Tokyo era. Buildings and goods become more modern, and perhaps Westernized.

 However, Japanese tradition holds strong in the home, as you see in these photos.
The Edo-Tokyo Museum is one of the best history museums I've visited. There are plenty of exhibits, and they have so much detail that one can spend a long time just examining the dioramas. There are occasional interactive exhibits, such as the palanquin seen above, allowing you to get some tactile experience. Signage is pretty good, even in English, and there are English pamphlets available. For anyone interested in really understanding some of the history of Tokyo, this is a must-visit museum, and I have a feeling I will need to visit again to fully enjoy all the exhibits! Plus, permanent exhibits are rotated every two months.

The museum is open 9:30-5:30, but is closed on Mondays. Admission is 600 yen for adults, 300 yen for students (480 yen college/vocational students) and seniors. Free audio tours and lockers are available, as well as volunteer guides. The audio tours and lockers require refundable deposits. The museum is located next to Ryogoku Station, and the website has a great map to show you how to get there.

Location: Kanto Earthquake Memorial Museum

September 1, 1923 was a horrible day in Tokyo's history. Just before noon, a massive earthquake struck the area and destroyed many of the buildings. And like the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, fires ravaged the remaining buildings, driving people from their homes to find any open spaces they could find.

One of those spaces was a small block that formerly held the Army Clothing Depot. Tens of thousands took shelter here after the earthquake, but a firestorm killed 38,000 in this small block alone! As such, it was chosen as the site of a memorial to the victims of the quake - almost 100,000 in all.
 The pagoda was built in 1930, in a traditional Buddhist style.
 There is a pagoda on the back side.
 The inside has a large space for services and remembrance.
 Below is the memorial to victims of the World War II air raid bombings, remembering the more than 100,000 people who died.

 There are other memorials scattered throughout the park.

 There is a nice memorial garden with a small stream and a peaceful walking path.

 Next to the museum is an impressive collection of equipment damaged by the earthquake and fires.
 This is all that remains of a burnt car - the engine, frame, and axles.
 Any idea what this is? How about a bunch of nails, melted into one big mass from the fires.
 Here is the museum itself; the outdoor "sculpture garden" created by the earthquake sits to the left.
 There are two floors to the museum. The bottom floor holds artifacts and exhibits relating to the quake. There are damaged items, such as the bicycle above, and other broken household goods. There are also several maps and displays to educate visitors about the earthquake. Almost everything is in Japanese, but there is an English pamphlet available.
 Upstairs, you'll find artwork relating to the disaster, collected from all over the world. Also on this floor are several city layouts, presumably showing what the city was like before the quake.
 Hrm. That car is driving on the right side of the road. They drive on the left side in Japan.
 This other street scene shows a couple streetcars and another car driving on the wrong side of the road...
 but looking to the right a bit shows that this particular street must be one-way. There's a nice residential area on top of that walled hill.

And here is an industrial area.

The museum has a nice collection of materials, but certainly feels dusty and old. Children wouldn't be interested as there isn't anything to do; older children might enjoy looking at the models seen above. While it doesn't have the new, clean feel many museums have, it holds an important part of Tokyo's history. Admission is free, and a visit could be a quick addition before or after a visit to the Edo Tokyo Museum and Sumo Wrestling Stadium and Museum nearby.

The memorial and museum are located in Yokoamicho Park, reached by a short walk from JR Ryogoku Station. Use the exit for the sumo stadium, and make a right. Follow the road, with the sumo stadium on your right, for two full blocks. Make a right at that light (the hospital should be on your left after you turn), and you should soon be able to see the pagoda. If you arrive at Ryogoku Station via the subway, just head north down the main street (away from the elevated JR tracks) a couple blocks to the park. Free admission, open generally 9:00-4:30 except Mondays.