Hosokawa Gyobutei Former Hosokawa Mansion

Kyu-Hosokawa Gyobutei 旧細川刑部家

Jake Davies

History of Hosokawa Gyobutei

There are many samurai residences scattered around Japan, some quite old and some quite large, but there are few, if any, that are both as large and as old as the Kyu Hosokawa Gyobutei (Former Hosokawa Residence) in Kumamoto, which is why it has earned the reputation of being one of the best examples of a high-ranking samurai manor house in Japan.

Hosokawa Gyobutei Mansion, Kumamoto Castle, Kyushu.
Approach to Hosokawa Gyobutei, Kumamoto

Construction of the Former Hosokawa Residence began in the mid-17th century and it was remodeled and expanded several times after that. The Kyu Hosokawa Gyobutei was originally located east of Kumamoto Castle in the Kokai district and was built as a rest house but after enlarging became the second home of Okitaka Hosikawa.

The Hosokawa had been a powerful clan for centuries, claiming descent from Seiwa Genji, a branch of the Minamoto. They held important positions in the Ashikaga Shogunate and for several generation controlled Kyoto as kanrei, Shogun's Deputies, and for a time they controlled all of Shikoku.

By siding with Tokugawa Ieyasu in the decisive Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, they were rewarded with Higo Province, now known as Kumamoto Prefecture and during the Edo Period they were one of the wealthiest clans in all of Japan. Okitaka was the brother of Tadatoshi, the third Lord of Kumamoto who was the patron of famed swordsman Miyamoto Musashi. Though not a daimyo himself, Okitaka was still a powerful man and held posts within the Tokugawa government.

Hosokawa Gyobutei Mansion, Kumamoto Castle, Kyushu.
Inner garden at the Hosokawa Gyobutei, Kumamoto

Following the Meiji Restoration, Kumamoto Castle became an Imperial Army headquarters and all samurai had to move out of the castle grounds so the gyobutei became the primary residence of the family.

Starting in 1990 the buildings were moved and reconstructed at their present site in the northwest corner of the castle grounds and reachable by the Castle Loop Bus or a ten minute walk from the main castle entrance.

The approach to the mansion is through a raked gravel garden bordered with maples that make for quite a spectacular sight in the fall, and compared to the main castle area it is much quieter and peaceful with much fewer visitors

Entrance is through the main door that has a kara hafu style curved gable. After taking off your shoes in the main entrance a carpeted, anti-clockwise route takes you through most of the more than 900 square meters of buildings starting with the receptions rooms, on to the guest quarters and then into the families private areas.

Another wing holds the kitchen and servants quarters. Like all traditional Japanese dwellings, the furnishings are sparse, but there are a few objects and artifacts on display in many of the rooms.

Inner private room at Hosokawa Mansion, Kumamoto Castle, Kyushu, Japan.
Inner private room at Hosokawa Mansion, Kumamoto, Kumamoto Castle Park
Kitchen with kamado stove at Hosokawa Gyobutei, Kyushu, Japan.
Kitchen with kamado stove at Hosokawa Gyobutei, Kumamoto, Kyushu

Open 8:30am to 5:30pm (April to October) 8:30am to 4:30pm (November to March)
Closed Mondays, or the following day if a Monday is a National Holiday, and over the New Year

Admission: 300 yen adults, 100 yen children

Former Hosokawa Residence
3-1 Furukyo-machi, Kumamoto, 860 0007
Tel: 096 352 6522

Kumamoto Castle Access - how to get to Kumamoto Castle & Former Hosokawa Residence

Kumamoto Castle is located north east of JR Kumamoto Station. Take a tram from JR Kumamoto Station and alight at the Kumamotojo-mae stop. The Former Hosokawa Mansion is located in the north west corner of Kumamoto-jyo Koen (Kumamoto Castle Park). Sugidono is the nearest stop on the Kumamoto Shiden (tram).

Alternatively take the Castle Loop Bus from Kumamoto Kotsu Bus Center.

Kumamoto itself is now connected by the Kyushu Shinkansen to Fukuoka, Nagasaki and Kagoshima and onwards from Fukuoka's Hakata Station to Osaka, Yamaguchi, Hiroshima, Okayama, Nagoya Station and Tokyo.

Hotel Accommodation near Kumamoto Castle

The area of Kumamoto Castle forms the historic center of Kumamoto and there are many hotels, ryokan and backpacker guest houses within a few minutes walk of the castle grounds. Some hotels near Kumamoto Castle include the Kumamoto Castle Hotel, the Ark Hotel Kumamotojyo-mae and the Hotel Sunroute Kumamoto.

Main entrance to Hosokawa Gyobutei, Kumamoto, Kyushu, southern Japan.
The main entrance to Hosokawa Gyobutei, Kumamoto
Study room with tatami mats at the Former Hosokawa Mansion, Kyushu.
The study room with tatami mats at the Former Hosokawa Mansion

Nearby Honmyoji Temple can easily be visited along with the Former Hosokawa Residence.

Book Hotel Accommodation in Kumamoto Here

Hotels in Japan - Booking.com
Hotels in Kumamoto - Booking.com
Hotels in Kumamoto - Agoda

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