Audio File length: 2.44
English / USA Language: English / USA

Hi, my name’s Jill, and I’m your personal guide. Along with MyWoWo, I’d like to welcome you to one of the Wonders of the World: Kyu-Iwasaki-tei, the former estate of the Iwasaki clan, who founded Mitsubishi.

The name Kyu-Iwasaki-tei means “old Iwasaki house”, and the estate consists of three splendid buildings surrounded by lush gardens.

In 1896, Hisaya Iwasaki, the son of the founder of Mitsubishi Group, purchased this area to build his residence. The original project consisted of more than 20 buildings.

After the Second World War, the estate was confiscated by the Americans. Once it was returned, all that remained of the buildings were two Western-style constructions and one in Japanese style; many of the others had been demolished.

During the Meiji era, it was common for Western-style and Japanese-style constructions to be built next to one another, with the latter used as the family home and the former as a guest house.

The main building, by the English architect Josiah Condor, dates to 1896. It is built in wood, with a slate roof. The front facade features a tower, preceded by a colonnaded patio, inspired by seventeenth-century English style. At the back is a two-story veranda in characteristic colonial style. The solarium dates to 1910.

The building is open to visitors; if you take a walk through, you may be surprised to see that the decoration of the ceilings in the guest bedroom, the floor tiles and other details are influenced by Islamic style.

The billiards house was also designed by Josiah Condor: a Gothic-style building with log walls, it is reminiscent of a Swiss mountain chalet, and is linked to the cellar of the main building by an underground passage.

The Japanese-style building, called Wakkan, is attributed to Kijiro Okawa: it was completed at the same time as the main building, and it is an example of Shogakukan architecture. Of what was once a large villa, only three rooms remain: the main hall, a small bedroom and a tea room; there is only one bathroom.

The garden was reconstructed in Western style, although the remains of an old Yukimi lantern and a shrine offer a reminder of what it once looked like.


Let me leave you with an interesting fact: the interior of the main building was almost entirely covered with gold wallpaper, unfortunately now lost.

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