Ryogoku is famous as home of sumo wrestling in Tokyo. Most foreigners and even locals go there for this purpose. However for those who is not lucky like us to see a sumo match, there are many other things to see and try in the area. A few weeks ago, my husband and I visited Ryogoku to see a special exhibition at the Edo Tokyo Museum. After that, we made a brief walk around the area.
Special Exhibition at Edo Tokyo Museum
Sometime in March I received an email from Japan Room Finder informing me that I won tickets to a special exhibition. It took me a few minutes to retrace how it was possible. Then I remembered answering an online survey from one of the social media posts. A couple of days after, they sent me the tickets. It was a special exhibition of the Edo and Beijing Cities and Urban Life in the 18th Century. The exhibition was held last 18 February until 9 April at the Edo Tokyo Museum.
Due to some prior schedules, we were only able to go to the exhibit on its last day. It was a rainy Sunday afternoon which is a great time to enjoy some indoor activity. The exhibition is very interesting because it gave me a good comparison between Edo (Old Tokyo) and Beijing cities in the 18th century. During that time, the influence of Beijing to Edo in terms of infrastructure, lifestyle, and city development is very visible. Taking photos of the displays were limited to the first area only.
And because we have already been to the main Edo Tokyo Museum a few years ago, we decided to make a short walk outside instead. The sakura trees near the museum were in full bloom which made walking in the rain a bit enjoyable.
Just a few meters away from the museum right beside the Ryogoku Kokugikan (sumo stadium) is Kyu Yasuda Garden. It is a Japanese garden open for free to the public. The garden used to be the grounds of a samurai residence in the 17th century known for its pond fed by Sumida River.
The main feature of the garden is a big pond located at the center. There is a path for people to walk around the pond which gives different perspectives of the place. On a clear day, the whole place is very picturesque with Tokyo Sky Tree on its background. It is serene despite the fact that it is in a busy area.
We did not stay long but the few minutes of being there was refreshing. On our way back to the station, I got curious with the pagoda we saw at the park. So instead of heading straight to the subway, we made a brief detour until we ended up at Yokoamicho Park.
Yokoamicho Park is a memorial place for those who during the Great Kanto Earthquake. In the center is the Tokyo Memorial Hall where the remains of about 58,000 victims are enshrined. There is also a Peace Monument to remember the victims of the Great Tokyo Raid; a Statue of Spirit to remember the children who died in disasters; and a Belfry.
Opposite its Japanese garden is an open exhibition that displays metal sculptures made of molten nails. These nails and other metal structures in the are remains from the huge firestorm after the earthquake.
Inside the Great Kanto Earthquake Memorial Museum
We went inside the Memorial Museum which is still part of the Yokoamicho Park. To our surprise, it was free of charge. Lucky us! For someone who is involved in urban planning and disaster risk management, looking around was like walking in a candy store. There were photos and diagrams explaining the cause and effect of the earthquake; some household items and tools that survived; and miniature structures during recovery and reconstruction.
It was almost dark when we finished our exploration at the museum. Overall, our Sunday afternoon was well spent!