Nakasuji Residence

Japan Guides: Former Nakasuji Residence 旧中筋家住宅

Jake Davies

The Nakasuji Residence is a very large Edo Period residence for a well-to-do local government official and is located along the Kumano Kodo not far from the south bank of the Kino River to the east of Wakayama city.

The 2,000 square meter property is surrounded on all four sides by an earthen wall.

Omotemon. The main gate to the Former Nakasuji Residence.
Omotemon: The main gate to the Former Nakasuji Residence
Kamado, traditional wood fired cooking stove.
Kamado, traditional wood fired cooking stove

Nakasuji Residence History

The first head of the Nakasuji Family, Bunteibo, settled here in 1585. In 1687 the 4th generation family head, Yoshimasa, was made shoya, village headman, similar to mayor, and in 1750 his son, Yoshihige, was promoted to the rank of ojoya, a government position overseeing a large group of villages or towns.

The term nanushi was used in Edo (present-day Tokyo) and eastern Japan rather than ojoya. Until the feudal system was abolished in 1868 this was a hereditary position for the Nakasuji family head and came with the added prestige of being allowed to carry swords.

Indoor well in the kitchen area of the former Nakasuji Residence.
Indoor well in the kitchen area of the former Nakasuji Residence
Interior of the traditional Edo-Period Nakasuji Residence.
Tatami mat interior of the traditional Edo-Period Nakasuji Residence

Nakasuji Residence Buildings

It was the 8th generation head, Yoshiyasu, who was responsible for the construction of the current main building in 1852.

The property is entered through the Omotemon, Front Gate, a thirty meter long structure that includes three rooms where official business was conducted.

There is a much smaller gate in the north wall, the Onarimon, but this was for the exclusive use of high-ranking guests. In the Edo Period gates were markers of status and there were strict rules about who could have a gate and the materials and style employed in its construction.

There are even gates at some sites that were/are for the exclusive use of the Imperial family or their envoys.

After passing through the Omotemon, the path leads to the entrance of the main residence. Technically it is classed as three storeys, but the third floor is just a small watchtower.

All the rooms on the ground floor are open to the public, and includes the Ohiroma, the largest room that was used for entertaining high-ranking guests.

Like all traditional houses of this kind the rooms are sparse and minimal, but what decorative elements there are are somewhat elegant, perhaps due to the fact that Yoshiyasu was himself an accomplished painter.

The kitchen area is large with a particularly fine Domo no Kamado with five cooking ranges. Unusually the well was indoors. The property has two gardens, the larger one to the north is viewable from the Ohiroma and has a small tea room in it. The smaller one has a pond with bridge.

There are numerous storehouses and outbuildings, most of which have a variety of agricultural implements on display. There is also a rickshaw and a palanquin.

Unless you are walking this northern section of the Kumano Kodo, visiting the Nakasuji Residence will involve a short journey out of Wakayama city, but if you have an interest in traditional Japanese architecture it is well worth the effort. A detailed pamphlet in English is available and the curator speaks a little English and is very helpful.

View out to one of the gardens from the interior at Nakasuji Residence.
View out to one of the gardens from the interior of Nakasuji Residence
Tokonoma (alcove) in the traditional Nakasuji Residence.
Tokonoma (alcove) in the traditional Nakasuji Residence

Nakasuji Residence Access

Nakasuji Residence
148 Negi, Wakayama city
Wakayama 649-6324

Tel: 0734 65 3040

Open from 9am-4.30pm on Saturdays, Sundays and National Holidays from March to November.
Entry is a mere 100 yen for adults, free for children under 18.

Located 1.3 kilometers south of Senda Station on the JR Wakayama Line.

Free parking if you go by car.

One section of the L-shaped garden at Nakasuji Residence.
One section of the L-shaped garden at Nakasuji Residence
The smaller water garden at Nakasuji Residence.
The smaller water garden at Nakasuji Residence

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