JAPAN TRAVEL: The House at Sengan Garden, a Tour Inside Shimadzu Clan’s Residence
The well-preserved residence of the powerful Shimadzu clan of Kagoshima lies within Sengan Garden.
The House at Sengan-en
This stately home, which also doubles as a museum, showcases the clan’s lifestyle particularly that of Japanese feudal lord Shimadzu Tadayoshi, who has lived here the most. The house has been renovated time and again over the last hundred years, but most of its original appearance still remains the same.
The narrow pathways leading to the sections of the house
Both Western and Japanese influences can be seen around the house, making the dwelling a symbolic attraction to learn about modernization in Japan—a legacy made by the Shimadzu clan.
As for the structure, the house was built using Yakusugi lumber from trees which are a thousand years old.
Inside the house, several artifacts are displayed which perfectly describe the family’s role in the modernization of Japan.
One of the oldest types of camera
In one of the rooms inside Shimadzu House, you’ll find a mini-exhibit of the 28th head of the family, Shimadzu Nariakira. This exhibit features the vintage cameras he used and the photographs he had taken in the past.
Informative panels are erected to serve as a learning guide for visitors touring around the house.
The Main Reception area is the place that welcomed royals and upper echelons of political power. The two rooms and surrounding hallways make for the reception area to accommodate more guests. The chandelier that you can see in the room was custom-made from London in the Meiji Period. It is powered by hydroelectricity.
Prince Tadayoshi’s study area is where he spent most of his days. It is the place where Tadayoshi would study and do paperwork in his days. From this room, the view was said to show all of the symbols which are considered lucky in Chinese mythology.
Although his family pioneered the modernization in Japan, Tadayoshi remained a traditional Japanese man in terms of his appearance. He used this dressing room every morning to change to kimono and tie his hair into a topknot.
Toilet and Bathroom
Tadayoshi has his own private bathroom and toilet inside the house. It looks quite unusual compared to modern bathrooms. Servants would wash Tadayoshi’s body before he relaxes in the bath. In the toilet area, you’ll find a wooden box which doctors inspect daily, as a way to check on the health of Prince Tadayoshi.
One of the best features of Shimadzu House is its overlooking view of the majestic Mount Sakurajima and the Kinko Bay.
The Shimadzu House incorporates nature in its elements, as seen in their Inner Garden which features octagon that follows the Feng Shui concept of China.
TIPS (The House)
- Please show your ticket at the entrance of the house.
- Shoes are not allowed to be worn inside.
- Food and drinks are prohibited.
- Using of selfie stick/umbrella is also prohibited.
General Information (The House)
Address: Sengan-en, 9700-1, Yoshino-cho, Kagoshima City, 892-0871, Kagoshima Prefecture
Operating Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Last entry at 4:50 p.m.)
Contact: (+81) 099-247-1551
Admission fee: ¥300 (adults); ¥150 (Children 7 to 15 years old)
This first appeared in Philippine Primer Vol. 36 – March 2019 issue.