Located just an hour from Nagoya you will find one of Japan’s superb outdoor museums known as Meiji Mura (Meiji Village).
The architectural museum opened in 1965 and displays sixty-seven buildings from the Meiji period (1868-1912), the Taisho period (1912–1926) and the early Showa period (1926–1989). The Meiji period was of particular importance in Japanese history as it marked the end of the country’s feudal age and was a time of rapid change in Japan. The structures from this time period characteristically reflect the influences of Western architecture. Further, these are actual buildings that were moved and reconstructed on the 250 acre property alongside Lake Iruka. Perhaps the most noteworthy of these is the reconstructed main entrance and lobby of Frank Lloyd Wright’s landmark Imperial Hotel, which originally stood in Tokyo from 1923 to 1967. The main structure of the Imperial Hotel was demolished to make way for a new, larger version which stands across from the Imperial Palace today.
Other notable structures include Lafcadio Hearn’s summer house from Shizuoka (1868), St. John’s Church from Kyoto (1907) and Kyoto’s old St. Francis Xavier Catholic Cathedral (1890). Interestingly enough, the cathedral is available to rent for weddings.
The goal of the museum is to preserve these historic early examples of Western architecture mixed with Japanese construction techniques and materials. Nine of the buildings displayed here are designated as Important Cultural Assets and nearly all are registered as Tangible Cultural Assets. A majority of the buildings remain empty while others have displays showing the history of the building, period furniture and other exhibits. There is a steam locomotive, a street car and several shuttle buses and horse-drawn carriages which transport visitors within the grounds.
Aside from touring the buildings, visitors to the museum can enjoy performances by a kabuki troupe in the Kurehaza Theater and partake in sake tastings in Kyoto’s former Nakai Brewery.
Meiji Mura is divided into five areas and touring the park will require a full day. You can reach the park from Nagoya Station via the Meitetsu Inuyama Line, exit Inuyama Station. From there transfer to a Meitetsu bus to Meiji Mura. The journey will take approximately 20 minutes.
Address: 1 Uchiyama, Inuyama, Aichi, 484-0000