Miyajima History and Folklore Museum 宮島歴史民俗資料館
This museum is situated inside a building from the 1800s. It used to be the private residence of the Egami family and is now a public historical archive. New exhibition rooms were added to the existing main building and storehouses to make space for the 3,000 Miyajima artifacts and historic art pieces on display.
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Absolutely amazing. One of the best museums I've been to in Japan and definitely the highpoint of Miyajima along with Senjokaku.
The Miyajima History and Folklore Museum was amazingly good (the bathrooms offer nice views of the Tahoto Pagoda too).
It starts with a cold dark storehouse with a stone floor, the room full of enormous pots that could fit people inside, jars, wooden buckets, cauldrons, old tools and saws. All piled together with the only space between being a path leading to the door out the opposite side of the room, I stood around and looked at them all one by one. Reluctantly I continued my way, I knew I couldn’t stand here all day (it turned out to be my favourite display, although there was some tough competition).
The mentioned door leads to a room focused on Miyajima’s festivals, little boats and models constructed next to the explanations and old photos of every event. The next is another storehouse with giant rice scoops covering the walls and smaller ones in display cases, some with writing, some with pictures or old with age. There were plenty tools shown to be used to make them, some strange looking things that I don’t even know how they would be used. Someone had gone to the effort of making ten half-scoops, stopping the process every step of the way so we could see how they are made.
Following the signs led me to the next building, a modern one with two floors, automatic doors and very strong air-con. The first floor mostly talked about Itsukushima Shrine and the gate, while I didn’t stop long to look at the photos I did sit down to watch the video playing on loop and learnt many interesting facts about the torii.
I definitely stayed the longest time on the second floor together with the golden folding screens, paintings, old maps and ancient documents. There were very good descriptions and plenty of pictures that helped understand the history of the island I knew absolutely nothing about.
The descriptions of the museum had ended as I left the big building but the path continued through an old traditional house. Hiroshima Castle had told me that in the past towns-people paid a certain amount of tax depending on the size of the front gate, so houses started to have smaller entrances but were very narrow and long from front to back. This one was an example of what that looked like, the rooms only a tatami and a half wide but very long indeed.
A corridor connected this small home to the Egami Family’s Main House. The building complex that holds the museum was built 160 years ago and was originally the residence of this wealthy merchant family in the soy sauce business (as well as the storehouses).
I was allowed to take my shoes off and walk around inside the home, and I sat down at the table in the drawing room to look out at the garden in their backyard. There are a few items they used to own which show just how wealthy they must’ve been.