Ever wondered how Japan’s Meiji era looked like? In Meiji Mura, architecture as well as lifestyle is simulated to the glorious modernization era helm by the Meiji emperor for 45 years.
The Meiji open air museum is open-air architectural museum/theme park in Inuyama, near Nagoya in Aichi prefecture, Japan. It was opened on March 18, 1965. The museum preserves historic buildings from Japan’s Meiji (1867-1912), Taisho (1912-1926), and early Showa (1926-1989) periods. Over 60 historical buildings have been moved and reconstructed onto 1 km² (247 acres) of rolling hills alongside Lake Iruka. The most noteworthy building there is the reconstructed main entrance and lobby of Frank Lloyd Wright’s landmark Imperial Hotel, which originally stood in Tokyo from 1923 to 1967, when the main structure was demolished to make way for a new, larger version of the hotel.
The Meiji era was a period of rapid change in Japan. After centuries of isolation, Japan began to incorporate ideas from the west, including building styles and construction techniques. Meiji Mura’s goal is to preserve these historic early examples of western architecture mixed with Japanese construction techniques and materials. Incidentally, many of the buildings were saved from demolition during the post World War II period, another time of transition and rapid progress in Japanese history.
In addition, notable buildings of historical or cultural importance including those of later eras are preserved as well, including a few Japanese style buildings. Nine of the buildings are designated as Important Cultural Assets, and nearly all the rest are registered as tangible cultural assets. The museum includes buildings from Hawaii and Seattle in the United States, and also Brazil. A steam locomotive and street car, along with shuttle buses and horse-drawn carriages, provide transportation within the grounds. An operational historic post office is included among the 67 buildings (as of 2005). Though some buildings are somewhat empty, others have displays showing the history of the building and period, period furniture, and other displays.
The former Imperial Hotel was moved from Tokyo between 1967 and 1985. Though only the entrance and lobby remain, it is the largest structure in Meiji Mura.
Other structures preserved at Meiji Mura include Lafcadio Hearn’s summer house from Shizuoka (1868) and Kyoto’s old St. Francis Xavier Cathedral (1890). The former Cathedral is available to rent for weddings.
Meiji Mura is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. from March to October, and until 4:00 p.m. from November to February.