Old Asakura House 旧朝倉家住宅The Old Asakura House (Kyu Asakura Kejutaku) is a century-old two-story wooden Japanese house on a large picturesque property in Sarugakucho, which is part of the stylish Daikanyama district of Tokyo.
Formerly the home of a local politician, the Old Asakura House is now a museum preserving the elegant turn-of-the-20th-century atmosphere of this part of the city.
The Builder - Torajiro
The builder of the house, first name Torajiro (1871-1944), was born in Aichi prefecture and went to seek his fortune in Tokyo while still a teen. He quickly found success as a timber merchant in Kiba, and was adopted by, and married a daughter of Tokujiro Asakura, a prominent rice merchant and local politician whose two sons had died. Thus Torajiro acquired the surname Asakura.
In 1904, at age 34, he acceded to what had been his adopted father's (and father-in-law's) role as a councilor of Shibuya Town Assembly. Then, in 1915, he became a councilor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly. He built this house in 1919, on the Asakura family estate, at the peak of his power.
The house mostly survived the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 - and was repaired. It was unscathed in World War Two. That the house has been preserved is thanks largely to the architect of the adjacent Hillside Terrace shopping mall, Fumihiko Maki (b.1928). The mall is on what used to be part of the house's property, and Maki pushed for retention of the house as a splendid and unusually well-preserved example of Taisho era architecture.
The Old Asakura House is big, and quite complex in its layout. At the time it was built, Mt. Fuji could be seen from the second floor.
The most charming thing about the Old Asakura House for visitors is its elegant grounds, with a beautiful mossy garden, with stepping stones and stone decorations, overlooked by the house's living room and balcony.
Most of the rooms are traditional tatami mat. The stairs and corridors are all creaky wood, and the doorways are low, so watch your head.
Subtle displays of the building's opulence include the use not only of cedar in the Suginoma (Cedar Rooms) on the west side first floor, but the use of cross-grain cedar, which was much more wasteful and therefore much more expensive.
Hours and Admission
March - October: 10am - 6pm (last entry 5:30pm)
November - February: 10am - 4:30pm (last entry 4pm)
Closed Monday, but open if Monday falls on a national holiday, in which case closed the next day, Tuesday. Closed December 29 - January 3.
100 yen for adults, 50 yen for junior high school age and below. Free for visitors aged 60 or over.
Shoes must be removed upon entering the house.
5 minutes' walk from the Main Entrance ("Shomen-guchi") of Daikanyama Station on the Tokyu Toyoko Line.
5 minutes' walk from Daikanyama Eki bus stop of the Hachiko bus (Yuyake Toyoko Route)
29-20 Sarugakucho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0033
The chic Hillside Terrace shopping center, on land that was formerly a part of the Asakura estate, is very nearby. Read more about Hillside Terrace in the Daikanyama guide.