Tokyo

Yamamoto-tei

This residence in the backstreets of Shibamata was once the home of the businessman Yamamoto Einosuke who made his money through the manufacturing of camera parts, and moved to Shibamata after the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923 destroyed his home. The house draws on elements on both Japanese and Western architecture, and is one of the best examples of sukiya-zukuri—a typical Japanese design for homes from the early Edo period. The thin shoji panels throughout the house, as well as the glass exterior walls through which visitors can view the Japanese garden, all serve to create a sense of spaciousness and tranquility that can be hard to find in the capital.

The building was acquired by Katsushika City Ward in 1988 and opened to the public in March 1991.

Much of the living area is now used as a tea room where you can enjoy matcha and wagashi on the time-worn tatami mats and low wooden tables. The garden can be viewed from just about anywhere in the tea room, but there is also a small outside balcony from which you can look onto the garden directly (as inviting as the rounded satsuki azaleas are visitors unfortunately cannot wander out into the garden). Adding to the sense of Japanese refinement are the kimono-adorned staff, as well as the traditional Japanese performances which are held at weekends (check the website for details—only in Japanese)

Access 7-19-32 Shibamata, Katsushika-ku, Tokyo 125-0052 | About a 10 minute walk from the station (turn right and then left at the entrance gate to Taishakuten Daikyo-ji Temple)
Hours 9:00-17:00. Closed on the 3rd Tuesday of each month (December closed 3rd Tuesday until Thursday)
Entrance ¥100 (free for children middle school and under). The menu for the tea house is additional. Prices are either ¥500 or ¥600 depending on the tea set.