Nagoya City has completed the restoration of the historic Choshokaku reception hall (c1935) and will open the building to the public from August 29.
The hall is part of the Yokiso estate which was owned by Suketami Ito (1878 – 1940), the first company president of the Matsuzakaya Department Store.
Ito purchased the 35,000 sqm site adjoining the Nittai-ji Temple and between 1918 and 1939, as many as 30 buildings were relocated or built on the estate. The grounds also included a chisen-kaiyu-shiki style garden and pond inspired by the one at the Shugaku-in Imperial Villa in Kyoto.
The estate was visited by the imperial family, nobility, politicians and foreigners.
Many of the buildings were destroyed in an air raid in 1945, including a 500 year old kominka, a tea house dating from the early 1700s, a granary relocated from Hachijo-jima Island and a reception hall from the estate of the Owari branch of the Tokugawa clan.
The estate had been occupied by Japanese and then the US Armed Forces. The Choshokaku building housed commanding officers. It was later used as accommodation for employees of the Matsuzakaya department store.
Much of the estate has since been subdivided and the grounds are now split into two separate lots. However, several important buildings and gardens remain.
Since 2003 the Yokiso villa has been managed by a non-profit organisation. In 2006-2007, the estate was donated to Nagoya City. In 2008 it was designated as a tangible cultural property.
Renovation of Choshokaku began in 2011. The layout of the house had been altered several times over the years and it was in need of repairs. The exterior was repainted a dark red to match the original colour which was only re-discovered after workers began repairs on the outside walls.
Admission is 300 Yen for adults. It is open daily from 9:30am to 4:30pm, but closed on Mondays and public holidays. Several of the rooms can be hired for events.
The Chunichi Shimbun, August 8, 2013.
Images from http://www.yokiso.jp/