The town is called Fukuyama now, but once upon a time it was Kusado Sengencho.

The first mental image many people have when they hear the words “history museum” is of a collection of artifacts inside sealed, climate-controlled glass exhibit booths. Sure, it provides a look into the past, but having a both literally and figuratively clear barrier can make it hard to feel a real connection to the present.

But the Fukuyama Kusado Sengen Museum, part of the Hiroshima Prefectural Museum of History complex, isn’t like most museums.

Long ago, the area was called Kusado Sengencho, a port village that flourished during the Muromachi period of Japan’s feudal samurai era. The community’s prosperity peaked in the 14th century, though, and the village became smaller and smaller, eventually becoming buried under sediment of the river it was built along.

Fast forward a few centuries, and the area became redeveloped as part of the growing town of Fukuyama, Hiroshima Prefecture. During a construction project in the Taisho period (1912-1926) workers found archeological remnants of Kusado Sengencho, and after extensive research by historians, a replica of the village, incorporating discovered artifacts,  has been constructed at the museum, allowing visitors to walk around a faithfully rebuilt samurai-era village and market.

The permanent exhibit, called Yomigaeru Kusado Sengen (“The Return of Kusado Sengen”) has been open for some time, but it’s often overshadowed by Hiroshima Prefecture’s more famous travel destinations, such as Miyajima and Peace Memorial Park. Japanese Twitter user and Fukuyama native @stmr_dikr, though, has been coming to the museum since he was a child, and recently shared a collection of beautiful photos from his most recent visit.

The village has machiya (traditional row houses), a dock, carpenter’s workshop, temple hall, and market, all built in accordance with architectural aspects of the Muromachi period. Some of the interiors are open to visitors as well, and include such classically rustic touches as traditional stoves and irori hearths.

Something that might not be immediately apparent is that Yomigaeru Kusado Sengen is an indoor exhibit, with its layout and some other clever aesthetic techniques giving it the atmosphere of an outdoor space. Because of that, there’s no need to worry about the weather when you’re visiting.

▼ Black-and-white photography results in a serious Kurosawa-film vibe.

While @stmr_dikr is a long-time fan, Yomigaeru Kusado Sengen remains relatively unknown, and he says that on many of his visits he’s practically got the whole place to himself. It’s also located right across the street from Fukuyama Station (which is a Shinkansen stop between Hiroshima and Osaka) and admission is just 290 yen (US$2.80), making this one of the most convenient, affordable walks into samurai-era history there is.

Museum information
Fukuyama Kusado Sengen Museum (Hiroshima Prefectural Museum of History) / ふくやま草戸千軒ミュージアム(広島県立歴史博物館)
Address: Hiroshima-ken, Fukuyama-shi, Nishimachi 2-4-1
Open 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Closed Mondays (or next non-holiday weekday if Monday is a holiday), December 28-January 1, February 2-5, and June 9-14

Sources: Twitter/@stmr_dikr via IT Media, Fukuyama Kusado Sengen Museum
Top image: Twitter/@stmr_dikr
Insert images: Twitter/@stmr_dikr (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where he strongly recommends the Mario Dessert cake shop inside Fukuyama Station.