Meiji Era buildings all lined up over a wide area!
The Museum Meiji-mura is an open-air museum which contains Meiji Era buildings symbolizing the Westernization of Japan. Initially, there were just 15 buildings that had been moved and preserved, but that has been increased to 67 structures including bridges and vehicles such as steam engines. The grand museum grounds with over 1 million square meters which has 10 nationally-designated Important Cultural Properties is separated into 5 areas. In each area, there are valuable buildings on display so that it feels as if you have traveled back in time to the Meiji Era.
Making use of the free guided tour will enhance your enjoyment!
Strolling through the museum is fun but making use of the free volunteer guides is one of the place’s charms. Among the many highlights are the Reception Hall of Marquis Tsugumichi Saigo House in Area 1, Tomatsu House in Area 2, the Villas of Prince Kinmochi Saionji and Mataemon Shibakawa in Area 3, Kureha-za Theater in Area 4, and the Oguma Photo Studio in Area 5 which all have building guides for free. At certain times, the interiors of some buildings which are usually closed off to visitors can be toured. Also, there are plenty of other guided tours including tours within each area for a small number of people, and a tour of the Main Entrance Hall and Lobby of the Imperial Hotel which was designed by the world-famous American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The museum is popular for being able to learn about the buildings and their historical background within a short period of time most efficiently.
If you’re hungry, savor a yoshoku menu which was first developed in the Meiji Era
Japan, which had been closed off to foreigners for a very long time, was finally opened to the world in the Meiji Era. There were obviously great changes to the architecture, clothing and food culture as a result. At Meiji-mura, there are yoshoku (Western-style Japanese food) restaurants serving dishes such as rice omelettes and croquettes, but there is also a bar where you can enjoy Japan’s very first cocktail, Denki Bran, and other places for cuisine which held sway during the Meiji Era. Especially popular is Gyu-nabe Oi Gyuniku-ten which specializes in gyu-nabe (beef hot pot) which symbolized Westernization. Gyu-nabe is similar to the contemporary sukiyaki. You can enjoy a hot pot filled with plenty of superior-grade wagyu beef and seasonal vegetables. The interior of the restaurants with their then-modern décor incorporating Western culture is also a sight to see. However, since there are relatively few seats, prior reservations are recommended.