Close to Nittaiji Temple (Japan-Thai Temple) near Kakuozan Station on the Higashiyama Line of the Nagoya subway is the delightful Yoki-so Villa and gardens.
Yoki-so Villa was established by Jirozaemon-Suketami Ito, a direct descendant of the Edo Period founder of the Matsuzakaya department store Yudo Ito, in 1918.
Matsuzakaya started life in Chayamachi in Nagoya before the kimono fabric business expanded to Tokyo and Kyoto.
Suketami, who supposedly chose the site for its fine views of the moon, began to assemble historic buildings that were owned by the Matsuzakaya business as well as other note-worthy buildings deemed worthy of preservation.
The first building moved to the site in 1918 was the Sansho-tei, a small tatami-mat room with tokonoma alcove from the original Ito home in Chayamachi in Nagoya. The round window has lovely views of the garden.
The Parlor of Yoki-so followed in 1919 and was brought from the site of the present day Matsuzakaya department store in Yaba-cho, near Sakae in downtown Nagoya. Kawakami Sadayakko, the famous Meiji and Taisho-era entertainer once lived here.
Bangaro was designed by the architect Teiji Suzuki and the second floor of the wooden house has a western-style room and part of the former Owari Tokugawa residence first constructed in 1900.
Chosho-kaku is a three-storied wooden house with basement built in 1937. The first two floors are done in western style with a Japanese-style third floor and the basement decorated with Indian murals by an Indian artist. The basement also contains a curved wooden stage where Suketami would stage performances for the entertainment of his friends and guests.
The garden in which the buildings stand is supposedly a copy of Shugakuin Rikyu in north east Kyoto. A roofed bridge (Hakuunbashi) stands over the central pond.
The villa served as a dormitory for Asian students in the 1930s and again as a dormitory for Matsuzakaya workers in the 1960s and 1970s.
Unfortunately many of the original 30 buildings were lost in US air raids in 1945. In the post-war occupation Chosho-kaku was used as a residence for the local US commander.
The Yoki-so Villa hosts occasional cultural events including traditional Japanese music concerts.
Yoki-so Villa is a short walk from Kakuozan Subway Station. Turn right and right again from Exit 1 and walk towards Nittaiji, just before the entrance to the temple turn right and follow the signs.
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