Japan Guides: Former Nakasuji Residence 旧中筋家住宅
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.
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.
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.
Nakasuji Residence Access
148 Negi, Wakayama city
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.
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