Shinjuku Historical Museum

A peek into a past few thought the city had

By Sleiman Azizi    - 2 min read

There are many who consider Shinjuku City Ward to be the capital of Tokyo's never-ending business and entertainment life. But scratch beneath the surface and you suddenly discover that, lo and behold, there is actually more to Shinjuku than business towers and izakaya drinking bars.

To find that hidden side of the city, head down to the Shinjuku Historical Museum. Ironically modern in design and structure, the museum is reputed to hold thirty thousand years worth of history inside. But fast forwarding to a time more congenial with most people's image of Japan, the museum lets visitors know that Shinjuku has been around since at least the fourteenth century.

Diorama exhibit at the museum (Photo: 江戸村のとくぞう)
Diorama exhibit at the museum (Photo: 江戸村のとくぞう)

To simplify things, the exhibits here are organised according to era. Pottery dating back to the early Jomon period can be found, bringing to light direct archaeological evidence from some fourteen thousand years ago. The records of influential families from the fourteenth century provide much of the museum's medieval exhibits while what we would now call modern Shinjuku is highlighted during the Edo and Meiji period sections. Life-sized replica buildings that once existed can be found, like a former pastry shop built in the tanagura warehouse style.

Detailed Edo-period building (Photo: Rubber Soul)
Detailed Edo-period building (Photo: Rubber Soul)

It turns out that literature has always been an important of life in Shinjuku and the museum records that history too by focusing on the manuscripts of over two hundred writers who were active in the modern area. This section leads to the post-Word War II era known as the Showa period where visitors will find scores of reconstructions of the city from that period, including a life-sized home and a streetcar.

Along with the era sections, visitors will also find a special exhibition area, an outdoors sunken garden while on the second floor can be had a library and reading room. The Shinjuku Hisotrical Museum is a great find for the historically-minded and with admission at only JPY300, a great find amongst modern Shinjuku's busy and non-stop facade.

Getting there

Take the Toei Shinjuku Subway Line to Akebonobashi Station and head out the A4 Exit. The museum is about an 8-minute walk.

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Sleiman Azizi

Sleiman Azizi @sleiman.azizi

A Japanese Permanent Resident, I have over 300 published articles on Japan as well as 5 English language books written in a traditional Japanese style. I happen enjoy writing. Funny that...I'm also the Regional Partner for Tokyo, Japan's never ending capital, so if you've anything to say about Tokyo - or Japan in general - don't be shy and contact with me via sleiman.azizi@japantravel.com

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Elizabeth S a week ago
It's amazing that under Shinjuku is the trace of Koshu Kaido, the old post road that ran from Edo to the western part of Japan. There's is still a road there called Koshu Kaido, which is today Route 20.
Sleiman Azizi Author a week ago
The old Edo highways draw a lot of interest even though much of them are more or less gone now, at least in terms of nostalgic aesthetics.
Elena Lisina a week ago
Shinjuku is interesting district with lots of anything! And I'm always lost in the Shinjuku Station! :D
Sleiman Azizi Author a week ago
It's a massive place!
Kim B a week ago
Nice seeing a different side to the city!
Sleiman Azizi Author a week ago
Shinjuku is so famous for other things, right?