Old Mitsui Family Shimogamo Villa

Kyoto Museums: Old Mitsui Family Shimogamo Villa

Old Mitsui Family Shimogamo Villa 旧三井家下鴨別邸

The Old Mitsui Family Shimogamo Villa, just south of Shimogamo Shrine near Demachiyanagi Station, is a former villa of the Mitsui family, constructed near the Mitsui family Akina Reisha shrine built on the site in 1909.

View of main house, Old Mitsui Family Shimogamo Villa.
Old Mitsui Family Shimogamo Villa, Kyoto
Old Mitsui Family Shimogamo Villa.
Garden pond and tea house, Old Mitsui Family Shimogamo Villa, Kyoto, Japan

History of Old Mitsui Family Shimogamo Villa

The Mitsui clan were a powerful business family that began trading in Kyoto and Edo (now Tokyo) during the Edo Period and rose to become the richest family in Japan heading a huge zaibatsu of linked companies and enterprises. This was broken up after World War II by the Americans but formed again in the 1950's as a keiretsu.

The Mitsui Group consists of such companies as Mitsui & Co., Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation and Sapporo Breweries. The founder of the company was Mitsui Takatoshi (1622-1694), the fourth son of a lowly shopkeeper from Matsusaka in Mie Prefecture.

The villa was built by Hachiro-emon Takamine, the 10th head of the Mitsui Kita Family (the head family of the clan) in 1925 for relatives visiting the shrine. From 1951, the house was the residence of the chief of the Kyoto Family Court until 2007.

Old Mitsui Family Shimogamo Villa, Kyoto, Japan.
Old Mitsui Family Shimogamo Villa, Japan
Old Mitsui Family Shimogamo Villa, Kyoto, Japan.
Old Mitsui Family Shimogamo Villa, Kyoto, Japan

Old Mitsui Family Shimogamo Villa

Old Mitsui Family Shimogamo Villa is a fine example of a classical Japanese-style residence of the Taisho Period.

The interior furnishings are a mix of Western and Japanese-style with both tatami and carpeted floors. The grand entrance is done in the shoin-zukuri style and the main building has a tower on the third floor with views of the Kamo River, Mt. Hiei and the Higashiyama hills.

The rooms may seem rather cramped by modern standards but visitors can peer in on beautifully-painted fusuma sliding doors, small interior gardens and the 1920's bathroom.

The garden is a delight and has great views of the house. It contains a central pond in the shape of a gourd, a tea ceremony house, and a moss garden. A small stone bridge crosses the pond and stone lanterns, stepping stones, artificial hills and large rocks from Kurama to the north of Kyoto adorn the rest of the space.

Old Mitsui Family Shimogamo Villa, Kyoto, Japan.
Old Mitsui Family Shimogamo Villa, Kyoto
Old Mitsui Family Shimogamo Villa, Kyoto, Japan.
Moss garden, Old Mitsui Family Shimogamo Villa, Kyoto

Old Mitsui Family Shimogamo Villa Access

Old Mitsui Family Shimogamo Villa
58-2 Shimogamo Miyakawa-cho
Sakyo-ku
Kyoto 606-0801
Tel: 075 366 4321

Admission is 410 yen for adults, 300 yen for junior & high school students and 200 yen for elementary school kids.

Old Mitsui Family Shimogamo Villa is open 9am-5pm (last entry 4.30pm); The museum is closed on Wednesdays. If Wednesday is a national holiday, it is closed the next day. Also closed December 29-31.

Old Mitsui Family Shimogamo Villa is a five-minute walk from Demachiyanagi Station on the Keihan Line. The villa is also very close to Demachiyanagi bus stop for Kyoto buses #1, #4, #3, #17, #102, #201 or #203 and Aoibashi Nishidume bus stop for buses #1, #37 or #205.

The Old Mitsui Family Shimogamo Villa is near to the southern entrance of Shimogamo Shrine, Kawai Shrine, Kyoto Family Court and the little-visited Imura Art Museum with its collection of antique French glassware and Arita porcelain.


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