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Former Iwasaki Residence Gardens: A Glimpse of Japanese History



2023.03.23 (Thu)

By Dan Lewis, long-term Japan resident & outdoor activity enthusiast.

Located in Taito City, the Former Iwasaki Residence Gardens offers a glimpse into the luxurious lifestyle of Japan's elite during the Meiji period. Built in 1896, the Western-style wooden structure was inspired by a country house in Pennsylvania, where Hisaya Iwasaki, the founder of the Iwasaki family, once studied. The delicate design of the building, not found in many Western structures built at the same time, creates an atmosphere of days gone by.

The garden, which partly follows the style of the daimyo garden, is a combination of Japanese and Western styles and retains the early form of a modern garden with a "lawn garden". Built on a 15,000 tsubo site, only one-third of the site remains today, with only three buildings remaining: the Western-style building, the billiard room, and the Japanese-style building.

The Western-style building, one of the most representative wooden structures of modern Japanese housing, was inspired by a country house in Pennsylvania where Hisaya Iwasaki once studied. Designed by Josiah Conder, the famous English architect of the Rokumeikan, the building is decorated in a Jacobean style, which is not found in many Western buildings of the same period. Conder's contributions to Japanese architecture and influence on the younger generation of Japanese architects are also noteworthy.

Although access to some areas is restricted, the Former Iwasaki Residence Gardens are open to visitors and offer a unique opportunity to explore the exquisite, purely Japanese-style architecture of the period. To visit, take the train to JR Okachimachi Station, then walk about 15 minutes to the gardens.

Step back in time and experience the opulence of Japan's elite at the Former Iwasaki Residence Gardens. This historic site features stunning architecture and beautiful gardens, making it a great destination for anyone interested in Japanese history and culture. Don't miss your chance to visit this fascinating glimpse into the past.

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