Old Mitsui Family Shimogamo Villa is located to the south side of Shimogamo Jinja Shrine. It was established by Hachiro-emon Takamine, the 10th head of the Mitsui Kita Familiy (the head family of all the eleven Mitsui Families), as a villa for all the Mitsui Families. The family had built the Akina Rei-sha Shrine in 1909 in order to enshrine the spirit of their ancestors on this site. Takamine needed a rest house when they visited the shrine and thus commissioned this massive residence in 1925. The family had another residence in the Kiyamachi area and relocated its main building to the present location. The villa was transferred to the country in 1949. From 1951, it served as the housing of the chief of the Kyoto Family Court until 2007. The main building and other extensive residential compounds from the Taisho period (1912-1926) have been maintained in a superb condition and are highly valued as a fine example of a large scale classical Japanese residence. It was designated as an Important Cultural Property in 2011.
The main building hosts a fine garden on the south side which offers an open and bright atmosphere. There is a watchtower on the third floor from which people can enjoy a wonderful view of the Kamo-gawa River and the Higashiyama ridges. It is also considered to be a main structural highlight in the design of the garden as a whole.
The entrance hall was added to the main building when it was relocat-ed. Though the architectural structure follows the classical Japanese Sho-in-zukuri style, the ceiling is high and the interior exhibits the western style as it is furnished with carpets, tables and chairs.
Tea Ceremony House
The tea ceremony house facing the garden has a more open and larger space than is common as it has an extra 3-tatami mat room next to the conventional 4.5-tatami mat room. At the rear there is another mini-tea ceremony room so as to make it possible to adapt to any of the tea ceremony styles such as Sencha and Chanoyu (Matcha).
A superb and beautifully tended moss garden spreads out in front of the building. There is a gourd-shape pond on the south side that draws water from the Izumi-gawa stream. The stone bridge is set above the pond to the south, curving stroll paths follow and small artificial hills on which stone lanterns and large Kurama-ishi rocks are distributed.
* The information is based on the website of Cultural Property Preservation Section of Kyoto City and the Mitsui Public Relations Committee.
3 minutes walk from Demachiyanagi Sta. bus stop on the Kyto City Bus # 1,4,3,17,102,201,203
5 minutes walk from Keihan Railway and Eizan Railway Demachiyanagi Sta.
58-2 Shimogamo Miyagawa-cho ,Sakyo-ku, Kyoto