KUWANA, Mie – Rokkaen, a stately building in this western Japanese city, was built in 1913 as the second generation residence of the local industrialist Seiroku Moroto. Nestled in the 18,000-square-foot former family estate on the Ibi River, the building has Western and Japanese-style wings and a warehouse, all of which are surrounded by a peaceful Japanese garden and a pond surrounded by a path.
The western-style wing, painted a pale blue with white trim, was designed by British architect Josiah Conder, the man behind the Rokumeikan guest house in Tokyo, completed in 1883. A four-story tower underlines the silhouette of the otherwise two-story wooden house, which has a winter garden on the second floor with a view of the garden. Inside and outside, from the three-sided bay windows to the Art Nouveau chimneys, every part of the house has exquisite design elements.
The Moroto clan donated the building to Kuwana after the city bought the land, and in 1993 the entire property was opened to the public as “Rokkaen”. The western and Japanese wings were declared National Treasures in 1997, and in 2001 the garden was named a National Landscape Point. The combination of Japanese and Western architecture still perfectly expresses Conder’s love for Japanese culture.
(Japanese original by Koji Hyodo, Nagoya Photo Group)
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The Japanese version of this article was originally published on February 7, 2021.
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