Slipping into an Alley of Good Old Days

The atmosphere of good old days in Japan is, in my opinion, best reflected in alleys.  Even today, if you go into the narrow streets, you can find something inherited from good old days.  Wondering around the alleys is one of the fun things to do for example in Yanesen area because good old days still remain there.  Note: Yanesen is the combination of Yanaka, Nezu and Sendagi.  These are the places near Ueno and there are many small old houses and lively shopping streets.)

Good Old Days in Today’s Townscape

Here are several photos of townscape in Tokyo.  Once you go into narrow streets, you can often find the air of good old days.

Good Old Days in Shitamachi Museum

If you would like to feel the atmosphere of the good old days in Japan, the easiest thing is to visit Shitamachi Museum in Ueno.

This small museum creates the replica of an allay of a typical town in Tokyo in good old days.  The houses in this allay on the first floor represents those in 19th Century.  They are small shops and workshops with a small family room.  In those days, every family had a table in a small living room where all the family members sit at the meal time.  (Of course they sit on the tatami mat.)

Their rooms were very small but cozy and had minimum necessary furniture such as chests and drawers.  They were small but practical and had a taste of simple beauty.

The people in good old days may not recognise this but their furniture is, in today’s eyes, precious antiques.  They kept using them for many years and when they were broken, they knew how to fix them.

 

Good Old Days in Showa Era

The second floor of Shitamachi Museum shows the history of towns of Tokyo from 19th to 21st Century. There, you can find a typical small room in mid 20th Century.

We have an era called Showa when Showa Emperor or Emperor Hirohito was the Japanese Emperor.  It started in 1926 and ended in 1988.  This era experienced the turbulent flow of the time including the World War, the economic recovery after the war and the high economic growth.  So we often look back this era with a nostalgic feeling.  This small room reminds us of the time when we were still struggling to recover after the war.  Although we were not so well-off, people were happy when gathering around the small table and having meals together.

Typical family room in mid 20th Century

A TV set is very classic and so is the radio on the cupboard.  The young generation perhaps wonder what the black equipment by the cupboard – a telephone!  And sawing machine is the one which works by stepping the pedal by foot.  These things are what I myself also used in my house when I was a kid but we don’t see them anymore.  So here, many people feel yearning to see the staff in good old days.

 

More Info on Shitamachi Museum

Address: 2-1 Ueno Koen, Taito-ku, Tokyo

Opening Hrs: 9:30am – 4:30pm (closed on Mondays and 29 Dec. – 1 Jan.)
The museum may close temporarily to change the exhibits so please check the website.

Admission: ¥300 for adults and school kids for ¥100

Access: 10 min walk from Ueno Hirokoji Station of Tokyo Metro Ginza Line
15 min walk from Okachimachi Station of JR East
15 min walk from Ueno Station of JR East, Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line and Ginza Line

Website: http://www.taitocity.net/zaidan/english/shitamachi/

Walking / Biking: Suitable for walking.  You can combine with your visit to Ueno area and Ameyoko Shopping Street.  Suitable for biking, too.

The museum stands at the corner of Ueno Park by the Shinobazu-no-ike Pond.  The pond today is surrounded by the high-rise building but still enjoys the atmosphere of good old days.

Shinobazu Pond and Lotus

About the author

Love walking. Love cycling. Love travelling. Let's see the world!

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