The Meiji-Mura museum (博物館明治村 Hakubutsukan Meiji-mura) is an open-air museum located in Inuyama City, north of Nagoya, overlooking the picturesque Lake Iruka.
It comprises sixty-seven buildings and structures dating mainly from the Meiji era (1868-1912): Western-inspired buildings such the main entrance of the old Imperial Hotel in Tokyo designed by Frank Lloyd Wright which has seen celebrities like Marilyn Monroe and Charlie Chapling; the cathedral of St. Francis Xavier built in Kyoto in 1890; St John’s Church, also from Kyoto and completed in 1907, next to traditional Japanese structures, such as the Kureha-za, a kabuki theatre constructed in Osaka in 1868; the House of Ogai Mori and Soseki Natsume originally built in Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo; the Kikunoyo Sake Brewery built in Kariya, Aichi Prefecture, in 1868, as well as administrative buildings from the Meiji period, such as Kanazawa Prefectural Prison, Miyazu District Court or the Barracks of the Sixth Infantry Regiment built in Nagoya in 1873; and structures like the old Shin-Ohashi Bridge spanning the Sumida in Tokyo and the Rokugogawa Iron Bridge across the Tama river between Kamata and Kawasaki, built in 1909.
The Museum Meiji-Mura consists of five areas connected by a Sharp, Stewart & Co. steam locomotive from 1874, an old streetcar from Nagoya as well as a “village bus” which charges 500 JPY for adults and 300 JPY for elementary students. It stretches over approximately 100 hectares, an area that can easily be explored on foot. Most of the buildings are accessible and display the spectacular interior design of the nineteenth century: the Mansions from the Kobe and the Nagasaki Foreign Settlements; the Reception Hall of Marquis Saigō Tsugumichi‘s residence, constructed in Meguro, Tokyo, in 1877 by Saigō Takamori‘s brother or Prince Saionji Kinmochi‘s villa, some of them hold special events for visitors, such as the kabuki performances or sake tasting at the sake brewery.
Other structures, such as the Ohi Butcher Store, school buildings, the Shinagawa Lighthouse, the old Uji-Yamada Post Office, barber shops, bathhouses, and historic police boxes evoke vivid impressions of what the daily life must have been in an era that saw some of the most profound social, economic and cultural changes in Japanese history.
The museum opened its gates in 1965 and was initiated by the architect Taniguchi Yoshirō (谷口吉郎, 1904–79) and Tsuchikawa Moto-o (土川元夫, 1903–74), the late president of Meitetsu (名鉄, Nagoya Railroad). Taniguchi was appalled by the 1941 demolition of the historic Rokumeikan (鹿鳴館) building designed by Josiah Conder and asked his friend Tsuchikawa to help him establish a foundation dedicated to the preservation of historic structures. Meitetsu funded the foundation, and Taniguchi became its first director. Nowadays, the museum is still run by a subsidiary company of Nagoya Railroad.
Visiting hours and admission:
Admission: 1,600 JPY for adults, 1,200 JPY for seniors (age 65 and up), 1,000 JPY for high-school students, and 600 JPY for elementary and junior high-school students, preschoolers are admitted free.
Opening hours: daily from 09:30 to 17:00 (March to October); 09:30 to 16:00 (November to March); closed on December 31 and Mondays through February, except when Monday falls on a national holiday or January 1 to 6.
Address: 1 Uchiyama, Inuyama City, Aichi, Japan 484-0000; phone: (0568) 67-0314; fax: (0568) 67-0358.
By train from Tokyo or Shin-Osaka: by Tokaido Shinkansen to Nagoya Station, then by Meitetsu Line to Inuyama Station; from the station, there is a bus to Meiji-Mura (approximately 20 minutes)
By car: from Tokyo on the Tomei Expressway to the Chuo Expressway and off at the Komaki-higashi Interchange (about 10 minutes from there); from Osaka: on the Meishin Expressway to the Chuo Expressway, off at the Komaki-higashi Interchange.
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- The Museum Meiji-Mura (in English and Japanese)
- Meiji Mura – concentrated history made fun (Japan Today, July 1, 2013)
- Bound for Glory (TIME Asia, Sep 6, 2004)