Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Scavenger Hunt (Jonah)

For my assignment this week, I was tasked with finding the former home and gardens of the founder of Mitsubishi.  I researched the history of the company and looked into which of the properties of previous owners had the most historical recognition.  Eventually I found my destination: the Kyu-Iwasaki-Tei Garden.

The estate was just off of one end of Ueno park, as as I walked to the entrance I noticed a walled barrier multiple blocks long around the property.  After walking up the long entrance pathway, the house came into view.

I was very surprised to see this type of architecture in Japan.
The house belonged to the Iwasaki family, and the construction of the house was commissioned by Hisaya Iwasaki, son of the original founder of the company.  The western style of the property was representative of the new interest in importing western styles during the Meiji Era.  Unfortunately, no pictures were allowed inside.

As I walked through the house, I looked at all the furniture and though “wow, some of the richest people in Japan lived here”.  But as I quickly found out, the western house was actually used primarily as a guest house!  The section where the Iwasaki family spent most of their time in was the Japanese style home.  While much smaller today, the Japanese section of the house was once massive and had many rooms, all with traditional tatami and sliding doors.  There was also a small tea house within this section.

A view of a small garden from the interior of the Japanese-style section.
After walking quickly through the Japanese house, you emerge onto the backyard and see just how large the property really is.  There is a sprawling lawn and view of both the house and gardens.  I took a quick walk through these gardens, which just for a second made me feel like I was outside Tokyo.

A very sharp contrast to the western-style residence.
The scale of the house and property was truly enormous for a private residence in Tokyo.  At this time the property has been declared a historical landmark.  However, I couldn’t help but feel that the majority of the property seemed to be a shell of its former self.  The garden for the most part was a wide and empty lawn, which many apartment buildings in view.  I would have loved to see the full gardens and Japanese property in its full glory, but was still grateful to see what was left.


Jeremy Sullivan said...

I understand how you feel about the location being a shadow of its past self, mine also felt that way. Were there a decent amount of people there when you visited the estate, or did the lack of numbers add to the sense of abandonment?

Ruobing Xu said...

It looks interesting. Is it hard to find? I'm planing to go to Tokyo next week, and this place looks nice to go.