Northrn Culture Musium
Northern Culture Museum
This pase are
reproduced from the pamphlet by permission of the museum.
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 MuseumThe 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
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
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
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