POINTS OF INTEREST
From an open plaza on massive pillars an escalator takes you directly to the sixth floor—and back in time 300 years. You cross a replica of the Edo-period Nihombashi Bridge into a truly remarkable collection of dioramas, scale models, cutaway rooms, and even whole buildings: an intimate and convincing experience of everyday life in the capital of the Tokugawa shoguns. Equally elaborate are the fifth-floor re-creations of early modern Tokyo, the "enlightenment" of Japan's headlong embrace of the West, and the twin devastations of the Great Kanto Earthquake and World War II. If you only visit one non-art museum in Tokyo, make this it.
To get to the museum, leave Ryogoku Station by the West Exit, immediately turn right, and follow the signs. The moving sidewalk and the stairs bring you to the plaza on the third level; to request an English-speaking volunteer guide, use the entrance to the left of the stairs instead, and ask at the General Information counter in front of the first-floor Special Exhibition Gallery.