As we welcome autumn here in Japan, my husband and I are now thinking of new places where we can enjoy the cool breeze and bright colors of autumn. We plan to go for hiking, travel to the countryside especially outside Kanto region, and a lot more. However, we still need to check our calendars if we have enough holidays and weekends to do these things before the season ends.

Yesterday our autumn adventure began as we went to the Kawasaki Open Air Museum. The travel was about an hour from our home by train. First we went to Otemachi via Tozai Line and then changed to Chiyoda line going to Yoyogi Uehara. From there we took the Odakyu Express going to Odawara and got off at Mukogaokayuen station.

As we exit from the South gate of the station, we were welcomed by Doraemon, a famous manga character since the place is also home to Fujiko F. Fuijo Museum, the creator of Doraemon. After paying homage to its statue, we headed to the Open Air Museum or Nihon Minkaen by foot.


Doraemon welcomed us at Kawasaki Mukogaokayeun station!


Experiencing Japanese Folk Culture at Kawasaki Open Air Museum


The museum is somewhat uphill and surrounded by different parks. Although the leaves have not changed their colors yet as a signal for autumn season,  walking around the area was very cool and refreshing. After buying our tickets, we headed to the exhibition hall where we saw miniature houses explaining the background of the traditional Japanese houses. We were entertained by a short video presentation about a typical day of a family living in a rural area during the old times. The video used  holography which made it more realistic.

A scale models of a Japanese traditional house


A typical day of a farmer's family in 3D


After that, we went outside the hall to see the actual Japanese folk houses. There were a total of 25 historical buildings including a kabuki theatre. They were transported from different regions in Japan, restored, and conserved to showcase the Japanese way of living during the olden times. These houses were owned by prominent people who lead different livelihoods like fishing, farming, coal production, and horse breeding.

On our way to see traditional Japanese houses


The Iwasawa House built in the late 17th century originally located in Kiyokawa Village in the Tanzawa Nountains, Kanagawa Prefecture


Ferrymen's hut built in 1929 that served as a resting place for fishermen in Kawasaki


A Kabuki stage built in 1857 for classical plays in Mie Prefecture


Inside the houses, we saw the tools they used as well as the different rooms for specific purposes like sleeping, animal breeding, kitchen, reception or ceremonies, and storage. In some houses, we saw park volunteers that demonstrated traditional crafts like weaving, shoe or sandal making using rice straws, origami using palm leaves, and indigo dyeing.


Tools used for farming


Enjoying a nice chat around an open fireplace


Things To Try at Kawasaki Open Air Museum

Aside from the house exhibits, there are also some special activities which visitors can try.


Japanese ladies weaving palm leaves


Inside the Indigo Dyeing Workshop


An amazing art work made from indigo dyeing

We also tried the traditional Japanese method of fabric dyeing using indigo ink. The workshop lasted for an hour including washing and drying of the cloth.


Trying to make our own indigo dyed handkerchiefs


Putting the cloth inside the ink well


Spreading the cloth to level the blue ink


Our finished product: Tie-dyed indigo handkerchief!


And before we ended our tour, we had a quick stop at the museum restaurant for a cold soba.


Zaru Soba served cold