Northrn Culture Musium

Northern Culture Museum


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This pase are reproduced from the pamphlet by permission of the museum.

The spacious wooden house containing more than 60 rooms, with a floor space of about 4,000m2 , and built on a site of 29,200m2, is an example of traditional Japanese architecture. The premises have been preserved quite well since their construction in 1885-1887 and they still show us the dignified simplicity of a wealthy landowner's house of the olden days.

Garden view from the main drawing room in autumn tints

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 nansion 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 which 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.
Yet even these grand landowners were unable to escape the Land Reform Act, which compelled landowners to sell off their paddy land holdings above 3 hectares or so.


Blooming camellia by the latticed gate

The Garden

The landscape garden lies to the south of the main drawing room. It is a "walking" garden laid out in the traditional style of the Kamakura and Muromachi periods (14th-15th century). Its five tea houses located in different parts of the garden (two of them built later), and numerous natural rocks-mostly from Kyoto-artistically arranged around the pond, give the garden its special character, and the green moss growing on the stones and rocks seems to add to its elegance and dignity. The garden was designed and completed by a gardner from Kyoto after 3 years of work.
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�@ Special Thanks kazuyuki Saito