Sep. 23, 2020 UPDATE
Ryozen Museum Of History- 霊山歴史館 -
The staff cannot speak English. However, some of the information panels offer explanations in English.
Some of the information displays have English. However, the majority of material is only in Japanese.
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Story & Recommendation
Japan’s Only Museum of History Specializing in the End of the Shogunate
The visit of Perry’s “Black Ships” to Japan marked the beginning of a fierce dispute in Japan over whether to continue to embrace the country’s traditional feudal society or to embrace reform and turn toward a new era. Are you familiar with the mighty historical figures who lived in these tumultuous times and whose activities created the foundations of modern Japan? The Ryozen Museum of History features a collection of relics and letters of the people who gave their bodies and hearts to Japan during this period. Even further east from the Yasaka Tower, the Ryozen Museum of History is located across from the Kyoto Ryozen Gokoku Shrine where notable samurai at the time are enshrined. About 100 items, selected from 5000 material and exhibits, are on display. This is the only museum specializing in the time between the end of Edo period and Meiji period. The museum’s most unique point is that you can find materials from both the left and right wing parties. The right wing tried to preserve existing Shogunate, and the left wing schemed against them. Kyoto was Japan’s political center then, this is why Ryozan Museum of History can give you bilateral viewpoints, which is something you cannot feel anywhere else. There are not only letters and pictures but also clothes seemed to be worn by samurai. You can wear the jacket of the right wing Shinsengumi and take a picture. The samurai in the photo is a cutout recreated to be life sized. If you are interested in Japanese history, it is highly recommended.
Life-Sized model of Ryoma Sakamoto
In this section, a life-Sized model of hero Ryoma Sakamoto is on exhibit. He was one of the samurai who lived at the end of the Edo period and beat the Shogunate to proceed to the Meiji period. It is said that he also promoted the restoration of imperial rule and is considered to be a founding father of modern Japan. You can see historical documents and relics about him in this exhibit. Among those are a life-sized model of him with a well caught powerful expression and hair (He is thought to have been 172cm tall, which was huge for those days). The letters and clothing used by him and other samurai 150 years ago remain intact here.
The Sword that killed Sakamoto Ryoma
The first floor has swords used to kill Sakamoto Ryoma. These are very valuable; as it is said the upper one actually cut him. The reason is that the assassination is assumed to have been carried out in a room with a low ceiling where a “Kodachi”, a short sword, would have been practically easy to handle. The blade has countless marks and tells of a hard battle. Although it isn’t in good condition, having rust and scratches makes it even more intimidating.
Wear the Shinsengumi robes
On the second floor, you can take a photo wearing a Kimono and headband with a life-sized cutout of Toshizo Hijikata (a deputy leader of the Shinsengumi). Shinsengumi were the so called samurai police that took action against the left. “誠” means sincerity and serving with a sincere mind is a basic trait of a samurai. Take a shot just like a samurai with “誠” on your back.
The Experience Section
The Experience section on the second floor is an area where you can actually see, touch and feel things. It is said that the wooden sword and guns in the photo were actually used by people from that time. Touch and feel the history!
- Manner & Tips -
Photography is prohibited in most areas of the museum. Important historical items are stored here and visitors are asked to refrain from taking photos without permission (we obtained special permission to take these photos). ・The only area where individual photography is allowed is the zone introduced in Must Do 01, where visitors can try on the Shinsengumi robes.