Ryogoku is popular to many as a home for sumo wrestling. Most of the time, people especially from abroad visit this place to see sumo fights. Another popular thing people do in the area is to visit the Edo Tokyo Museum. Recently, me and my friend went biking to and around Ryogoku. I discovered that in addition to its "Old Tokyo" ambiance, this place is a haven for museum lovers.
Ryogoku for Museum Enthusiasts
During the Edo period, this area served as a center for artisan and craftsmen because of proximity to big rivers and Tokyo Bay. Traces of this shitamachi lifestyle is visible. Quaint shops along small streets, old houses, and fascinating architecture here and there. Likewise, you can also see memorabilia and artefacts in several museums.
My friend and I decided to visit two museums which we have not been yet. First is the Japanese Sword Museum and then Tokyo Origami Museum. The sword museum is just a few steps away from Ryogoku JR Station. It is easy to find because it is just next to Kyu Yasuda Garden. Before entering the museum, we made a brief stop to this garden to take some photos.
Japanese Sword Museum Exploration
I like this museum because of its good contrast to its quaint environment. Its building design is very contemporary but it blends well with the historic ambiance of the town. Similarly inside, the museum features a historic Japanese - the Katana. However, instead of highlighting those used by samurais, it displays the works of current artisans.
The museum displays are grouped based on the different parts of the swords. As we walked through, I personally learned how intricate and crafty a sword can be. We also learned the different processes involved from forging the blades until production of the sword hilts.
I personally enjoyed looking chookin or fitting. This is the small round metal between the sword and the handle. I admire beautiful intricate designs created by contemporary craftsmen from different regions.
Discovering More About Origami
After the sword museum, we headed to the next item in our itinerary - Tokyo Origami Museum. It is about a kilometer away from Ryogoku Station towards Sumida area. The museum is a bit tricky to locate because it is somewhere inside the small streets of Sumida.
Inside the museum are origami displays placed in glass shelves. People can also buy instructional books and different types of papers to make their own origami. The museum also offers special workshops for those who wish to learn this art.
Relaxing at Kiyosumi Garden
On our way back home, we made stopped by Kiyosumi Garden for a few minutes. It was past 3:00 pm when we get there. A good time to walk around the big pond and relax under the trees.