The Shitamachi Museum in Ueno was established in 1980 to teach future generations about the culture of the shitamachi. The word shitamachi is composed of the word shita meaning “down” and machi meaning “town”. By touring the Shitamachi Museum, you will gain an understanding of life in the shitamchi pre-WWII. The Shitamachi Museum has many hands on exhibits including old Japan toys, a public bath stand and old living room. Kids and Adults will enjoy! Plan for 30-60 mins.
However, the word shitamachi, first used in the Edo period, referred to lower land. The land to the southeast of Edo Castle (now the Imperial Palace) was lowlands.
During the initial period of Edo, the lowlands were where the artist and merchants lived and did business. The shitamachi was crowded; so small houses made of wood were built very close together. These houses were called nagaya in Japanese and often caught on fire. The Great Kanto Earthquake & Fire in 1923 and WWII destroyed mush of shitamachi in Tokyo. The Shitamachi Museum will transport you in time to see how people lived and worked during the Edo period.
If you like this museum, you will also enjoy the Edo-Tokyo Museum (Ryogoku, Tokyo) and the Fukagawa-Edo Museum (Koto-ku, Tokyo).
The Shitamachi Museum Details
Address: 2-1 Ueno-koen, Taito-ku, Tokyo 110-0007
Hours: Tues – Sun 9:30 – 16:30 (closed Mondays)
Cost: Adults 200 yen, Elementary – High school students 100 yen; pre-elementary and under free
Access: 10 minutes’ walk from JR Ueno Station (South exit) on the Yamanote, Hibiya or Ginza lines; or 10 min walks from the Yushima Station on the Chiyoda line, or the Ueno-Hirokoji Station on the Ginza line.
Note: Stroller and wheelchair accessible
The Shitamachi Museum
Did you enjoy this article? If yes, please sign-up for the Best Living Japan newsletter, so you don’t miss any great info. It easy to sign-up just click here, and enter your email.