History of Northern Culture Museum
Ito Mansion and the Northern Culture Museum
The Ito family was formerly one of the largest landowners in Japan.
Here in this quiet village on the Kambara Plain along the Agano River, Ito Mansion served as their home until 1946,when the Land Reform Act was officially proclaimed and the mansion and all of the valuable works of art they had collected were donated to the Northern Culture Museum, which was established in the same year. Since then Museum has been in charge of the maintenance and exhibition of the property.
According to the family tradition, the Ito family began as farmers in this village about the middle of the 18th century. After the Meiji Restoration the family is supposed to have emerged as major landowners.
While Japan was striving for modernization during the Meiji era, the family continued to increase their property holdings that consisted mainly of paddy land and forest. By the beginning of the Showa era (1920's), they had become one of the largest landholders in Japan, possessing about 1,370 hectares of paddy fields and more than 1,000 hectares of forest. In order to manage this vast property they employed 78 overseers who controlled no fewer than 2,800 tenants. The family also owned about 60 warehouses, which stored 1,800 tons of rice every autumn.
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