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Saionji Kinmochi/西園寺公望 (1849~1940) was a prominent diplomat for Japan especially in France who witnessed the passage of japan from feudalism to modern times.
He was born in October 1849 as the second son of Tokudaiji Kinito, the Minister of the Right. One of Japan’s modern elder statesmen, he live d a long life spanning the Meiji, Taisho and Showa periods as a liberal politician until the age of 91 when he passed away in November 1940.
Zagyo-So named by Viscount Chifuyu, was built facing the scenic Kiyomi lagoon in 1919 when Saionji was 70 years old as a place to lead a quiet life in his later years.
Times change and on March 18th, 1971, Zagyo-So was moved to Museum Meiji Mura located in Inuyama City, Aichi Prefecture. It is still shown today as a National Tangible Designated Cultural Asset.
Now a reproduction of Zagyo-So has been created on the land where it once stood thanks to the strong will of Okitsu (Shimizu Ku) people, the business world and the full cooperation and guidance from the Meiji Mura Foundation!
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To reach Zagyo-So get down at okitsuJR Station along the Tokaido railway Line, go straight to the main street, turn right and walk past Seikenji Temple.
You will eventually find the sign above on your left-hand side. You v\can’t miss it!
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A sign both in Japanese and in English will exlpain where you are!
Incidentally visits are free and volunteer guides (Japanese only usually) are on hand to show you around!
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Walk towards the entrance.
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The place is not that big, so take your time to notice the small details!
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The entrance!
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The back garden side facade!
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Past the entrance!
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Kaguya Hime Dolls!
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The whole place is very much naturally lighted in daytime!
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Photographs of the original Zagyo-So and Saionji Kinmochi in his late years!
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Time slip!
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Main room with Tokonoma!
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A well-lit « tsurou/hall »!
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the small musueum dedicated to the life of Saionji Kinmochi!
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Many pictures taken during his long life!
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Saionji Kinmochi as a samurai at 17, a student in Paris, an Ambassador in Germany at 40 and as a Minister for Culture in the 2nd Itoh Prime Minister Cabinet!
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More pictures, especially as a foreign diplomat who met French Minister Georges Clemenceau many a time!
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Personal artifacts and personal seals!
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Apparently he had a special liking for amanatto/sweet fermented beans confectionery!
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More original photos!
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The traditional Japanese bathroom!
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The washroom besides the toilets!
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Walking around the place gives you a good idea of traditional Japanese households before WWII!
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More recent pictures of the original building!
The guide told me it had to be moved and replaced as it was nearly falling apart!
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Emperor and Empress Showa visited the place in Novemeber 1957!
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Detailed pictures of the reconstruction!
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City workers pruning the trees in the garden!
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A so simple and so beautiful Tokonoma!
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Another view to give an idea of the room!
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One of the studies!
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Japanese style wall cupboard with Japanese tea box!
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Traditional Japanese toilets!
The guide told me it must have been hard on the old man’s knees!
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The traditional Japanese kitchen!
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Another time slip!
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Valuable utensils, especially tea ceremony ones were washed in this separate basin outside the kitchen.
The guide told me that the Master of The House washed his hands there, too!
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A space dedicated to Saionji Kinmochi’s personal maid, the second most important person after his spouse!
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A picture of the phone they were using at the time!
Shizuoka City Zagyo-So Museum Saionji Kinmochi Villa
424-0206 Shizuoka City, Shimizu Ku, Okitsu, Seikenji Cho, 115
Tel. & Fax: 054-369-2221
Visiting hours:
Weekdays: 10:00~17:00
Saturdays, Sundays & national Holidays: 09:30~17:30
Closed on Mondays (or the day after if a National Holiday) and from December 29th thru January 3rd
Free entrance
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