Tokyo was once called Edo, and it is where various types of culture flourished, including academics, arts, and entertainment. Here we introduce museums in the Tokyo metropolitan district with free admission, where you can experience Japan's tradition and history.
Sumida Edo Kiriko-kan
With just a five minute walk from the JR Kinshicho Station, you will find Sumida Edo Kiriko-kan on Kuramaebashi-dori, where you can view Tokyo Skytree(R). Edo Kiriko is a traditional form of glasswork, which was created during the Edo period when glass workers started to add cutting patterns to glass goods brought into Japan from overseas. First, bowls are made from transparent glass colored indigo blue or crimson, and kiriko (facet) patterns are cut into glasses. Designs that capture the beauty of nature from the Edo period, and geometric patterns using lines and curves are seen on glass tableware, lighting, and stained glass, and are loved by many. Here at Sumida Edo Kiriko-kan, you can enjoy exhibits on the history of kiriko and artifacts by kiriko master artisans. Also, you can try glass cutting with your favorite patterns on your choice of glassware. Experience a traditional technique and create your one-of-a-kind kiriko glass.
Japanese sake is gaining popularity as Japanese cuisine is capturing the hearts of people abroad. There are more than 10,000 brands of Japanese sake made across Japan, created with some of the fruits of the country's labor: rice, water and koji-kin (rice malt). If you are interested in Japanese sake, you may visit Sake Plaza operated by the Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association. You will find a huge collection of Japanese sake from all over Japan, and visitors can learn the history and culture of Japanese sake through computers and videos at this Japanese sake information center. Also, visitors can lay eyes upon not only excellent, traditional sake brews, but also unique Japanese sake such as sparkling sake and kijoshu (aged dessert sake). At the shop, there is also a wide range of products perfect for souvenirs including Japanese sake, authentic shochu (distilled spirit), awamori (traditional rice wine from Okinawa), and small items like sake glasses. At the popular taste test corner, tourists can choose five sake brands from tens of brands to taste at a price. Use your tongue to find your own sake preference
Edo Shitamachi Traditional Crafts Museum
Edo flourished as a hub of business and culture, and it was the land where the townspeople's culture also blossomed. Many temples and shrines from the Edo period remain, especially around Asakusa in the Taito-ku area, and many craftsmen are still around to preserve and pass down traditional arts and crafts to people. Edo Shitamachi Traditional Crafts Museum ((Edo Shitamachi Dento Kogei-kan), located near Senso-ji temple, is where a wide variety of traditional arts and crafts are on display, and it offers live demonstrations and hand-made classes to familiarize visitors with these arts. Including work in the styles of Edo-sudare (Edo-style screens), kiri-tansu (traditional mobile storage cabinetry), and Edo-sashimono (traditional wooden furniture), there are around 350 objects made from around 45 styles on display. During weekends, craftsmen demonstrate how to make artifacts, so visitors get to see traditional techniques performed before their very eyes. Inside the display house, you will find a souvenir section that is the perfect place for you to buy some Japanese souvenirs.
The Museum of Yebisu Beer
At the Museum of Yebisu Beer in Ebisu, Shibuya-ku, visitors can learn the history of Yebisu Beer and how to enjoy Yebisu Beer. You may enter for free, but we recommend that you take their 40-minute paid tour. It is a popular tour during which the staff tells you the history and side stories about Yebisu Beer, from its inception to the modern day. At the end of the tour, you can taste two types of Yebisu Beer. Additionally, you can relax and enjoy different types of Yebisu Beer with some light meals and snacks that go well with Yebisu Beer at the tasting salon. At the museum shop, there are many original items which are available only at this shop. If you are not sure what to get as souvenirs, you may find something here at the Museum of Yebisu Beer.
The Sumo Museum
The Sumo Museum (free admission) is on the first floor of the sumo mecca, Ryogoku Kokugikan, which is a one-minute walk from the JR Ryogoku Station. Inside the museum, valuable, artistic collectibles such as nishiki-e (colored woodblock prints) created in the Edo period, sumo banzuke (official listings of rank), and kesho-mawashi (silk belts with embroidered aprons) worn by the yokozuna (the highest ranked sumo wrestlers) through history, are on display. The Ryogoku Kokugikan is not only a popular tourist spot as a historical facility, but also houses sumo and other sporting events, as well as live concerts. Even if you cannot see a sumo match during your visit, you can experience this Japanese sport by visiting the museum, or through participating in available events. Also, you will find many chanko (a Japanese stew dish traditionally served to wrestlers) restaurants owned by former sumo wrestlers around the Ryogoku Station. Eating chanko-nabe with a lot of seafood, meat, and vegetables is one of the experiences you can enjoy when you visit the Ryogoku area.
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