Sunday, July 21, 2024

Dokurakuan Tea House & Sankan Sanro Roji Gardens


The Izumo Cultural Heritage Museum is a must-visit site for those interested in Japanese gardens.

As well as a fine example of an Izumo-style karesansui garden attached to a huge mansion, which I covered yesterday, it also has examples of roji, the small gardens associated with tea houses and the tea ceremony.

The Dokurakuan is a replica of a teahouse designed by Sen no Rikyu, probably the most famous of all tea masters.

It was originally built in Uji, near Kyoto, but passed through many owners until ending in the hands of Matsudaira Fumai, the daimyo of Matsue domain who was a famous tea master in his own right. 

He retired early and passed the domain on to his son so he could retire to his estate in Edo where he built a huge garden with many teahouses including the Dokurakuan.

A teahouse is usually approached through a type of garden called roji.

here at the Izumo Cultural Heritage Museum  the replica Dokurakuan is reached through three gardens called Sankan Sanro.

Called Outer, Middle, and Inner, the three gardens are quite distinct and separated by walls and gates.

It is said the Sankan Sanro was designed by Fumai himself.

The teahouse and gardens were recreated using old drawings and paintings of the original.

As well as the mansion with its Izumo-style garden, and the Dokurakuan and Sankan Sanro, there is yet another garden here. A modern teahouse where visitors can enjoy tea and sweets has its own garden, but I have no photos as I didn't visit.

The museum and gardens are free to visit, though there may be some entry fees to special temporary exhibitions that are in the big galleries.

The previous post was on the Izumo mansion and Garden. Not far away are a couple of other traditional properties with nice gardens, the Hirata Honjin, and the Yakumo Honjin.

Friday, July 19, 2024

Izumo Mansion & Izumo-style Garden


The Izumo Mansion was formerly the residence of the Ezumi family, a wealthy farming family of the Izumo region.

Their main house was dismantled and reassembled within the grounds of what is now the Izumo Cultural Heritage Museum, located between downtown Izumo and the Izumo Taisha area.

As well as moving the substantial house, they also moved the very large garden.

The Nagayamon, gatehouse, was also relocated and serves as the entrance to the museum compound.

The garden is very large and is  a dry garden with large areas of white gravel.

It can be viewed from the southern, shoin, room of the mansion.

It was a stroll-type garden, but unfortunately cannot be entered, only viewed from the house.

It is planted mostly with evergreen shrubs and trees, including a lot of black pine.

The arrangement of stepping stones is in the Izumo-style.

The house was originally built in 1896, and all the rooms can be explored.

Next door is a restaurant that offers a different view of the garden.

The Izumo Cultural Heritage Museum has exhibits on Izumo crafts and offers workshops. Two large, modern galleries show interesting temporary exhibits that require an entrance fee. I saw a fantastic exhibition of yokai prints and paintings here. The mansion and gardens are free to enter.

For garden enthusiasts there is an extra bonus here, a replica of a teahouse by Sen no Rikyu once owned by the famed Matsue tea master Fumai, with a series of gardens including one designed by Fumai himself. I will post pictures of that next.

The previous post in this series exploring the delights of Izumo and Matsue was on Jozan Inari Shrine.

Thursday, July 18, 2024

Sasebo Port Revisited


On my last day in Sasebo I went back and visited the recently redeveloped port and harbour area.

I had been based in Sasebo for a week and each day took the local trains out into the surrounding areas of northern Nagasaki and western Saga visiting a cluster of temples on the Kyushu 108 temple pilgrimage.

Lots of interesting architecture but not a lot of people.

Sasebo is a major naval port for both Japan and the USA.

I did post earlier on this area like this one on Sasebo port, and this one on the ferry terminal.

The previous post was on some interesting buildings nearby.

This was the end of day 71 of my walk and the next day I headed north on the final week's worth of walking to complete the pilgrimage up in Munakata Fukuoka.

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Awa Ikeda Udatsu House & Museum of Tobacco


Awa Ikeda was in important transport and trading hub on the Yoshino River in what is now Miyoshi City in Tokushima on Shikoku.

This very large Edo period property belonged to a wealthy tobacco manufacturer and is open to the public.

In the entrance area is a nice display of puppets, as this area of Shikoku, Awa, is home to a long tradition of puppetry.

After sitting in the entrance for a while, trading tobaccos and smoking with the curator, he then took me on a guided tour of the house. It was a huge complex surrounding a nice courtyard  garden.

This first section of the property was formerly the residential area and each room was tastefully arranged with traditional, minimal, decorations...

Incidentally, udatsu are the external architectural features that are found protruding from the second floor of buildings and are meant to prevent the spread of fire from building to building. They are a common feature of a historic town a little further down the river in Mima.

At the rear of the property, which was where the workshops were, is the tobacco museum, spread over about ten rooms with a wide range of displays.

Tobacco was introduced into Japan in the late 16th century, probably by the Portuguese. The government unsuccessfully tried to ban it, but its use became widespread among men and women, and it became a lucrative cash crop throughout Japan.

Tobacco was smoked using a kiseru, a small pipe with a metal bowl and mouthpiece. Kiseru developed into an artform, some with intricate engraving. Another artform that came from tobacco was netsuke, the tiny ivory ornaments used in tobacco pouches.

The type of tobacco for kiseru was called kizami, a very finely chopped form. Kiseru and kizami began to disappear after the Meiji Restoration when cigarettes started to become available.

In 1898, to secure the considerable tax income, the Japanese government established a monopoly on the sale of tobacco leaf. In 1904 they expanded the monopoly to cover all aspects of tobacco production. In 1985 the government sold off Japan Tobacco, but retained a large percentage of shares, and JT has become one of the biggest tobacco companies in the world, buying u foreign companies like the Gallagher Group.

Even if you have no interest in Tobacco, it is a fascinating small museum to visit. The displays are all well made and though there is no English, the very friendly curator does his best to explain things. The traditional house is also worth a visit by itself. I find many museums in Japan to be overpriced and not so interesting, but there are plenty like this one that are excellent value for money but rarely visited.

I visited on the 4th day of my walk along the Shikoku Fudo Myoo pilgrimage. The previous post was Maruyama Shrine.