The Fukagawa Edo Museum, located a short walk away from Kiyosumi Shirakawa Station, is an interesting and pleasant destination for anyone curious about Fukagawa in the Edo period, however the information about geisha specifically is limited. In preparation for our presentation, my group went to find out as much about the history of geisha in Fukagawa as we possibly could. We may not have found quite what we were looking for, however there is still a lot to be gained by exploring this unique museum.
One of the most notable aspects of the Fukagawa edo museum is undoubtedly how interactive it is. The largest exhibit, which encompasses the majority of the slightly small museum, is a life sized recreation of a town in Fukagawa, complete with buildings visitors can enter and a river that runs through one side. Not only that, almost every building is interactive with fully decorated rooms and props that visitors can touch and pick up including fans and old-style fake tempura. There are several other room that showcase a plethora of historical fukagawa-related novels, and various antique kimonos and objects. All in all, the museum hosts an incredible amount of attractions and knowledge for anyone interested in the Edo area and Fukagawa, provided one can speak Japanese.
Having said that however, in regards to Fukagawa geisha in particular, there is very little information to be found. Even the staff, who act as guides and answer whatever questions visitors have, often have very little knowledge about the geisha. Luckily, the employees are incredibly helpful and willing to do whatever they can to find answers. When one of the guides couldn’t answer our question she sought help from her colleagues, and we ended up speaking with a total of four guides and staff who did their best to teach us about what they could from their experiences and knowledge. They also introduced us to a large number of novels from their collection that mentioned Fukagawa geisha and personally narrated a video of a modern day tatsumi geisha dance reenactment. Even though we didn’t find as much information about geisha as we had hoped, the incredibly generous staff will undoubtedly be helpful to some degree with whatever questions visitors may have.
All in all, the Fukagawa Edo Museum is a worthwhile visit for anyone interested in Fukagawa and history, keeping in mind that it’s a small museum with a niche focus. Even though it’s not an ideal place to look into the history geisha, for one who is searching for information about Fukagawa geisha in particular this may actually be one of the only places to do research. For those with a little time and money, the museum is probably worth checking out. One never knows what new things there is to learn!