By Rey Waters
Are you visiting Sankei-en Japanese Garden from Negishi-station? If so, why not drop in at Kyu-Yagishita-Tei (旧柳下邸)?
This is a sophisticated old Japanese house that was originally built for a wealthy merchant, a Mr Yagishita, and is now owned by Yokohama city. It has been designated a tangible cultural property of Yokohama. If you are interested in visiting an old style Japanese mansion but don’t have a good connection or much time to do so, this will give you a good chance to get a look at a typical “modern classic” house. In it you will find more than ten rooms including an old-fashioned Japanese bath (Goemon-buro), a tatami anteroom, an annexed warehouse, an alcove (Tokonoma) with a hanging scroll (Kakejiku), and a mixed style room of western and Japanese taste that has a white washed ceiling and walls with carvings, along with a tatami floor. It is furnished with a round, western wooden table and carpet. Beautiful, narrow dark wood windowed hallways wind their way around the outer edges of the house. And just inside the entrance on the left, there is a large, black wall safe that was used to store valuables.
Kyu-Yagishita-Tei is also a good place to see Japanese traditional seasonal decorations such as Hina-dolls, warrior helmets (Kabuto), etc. In the warehouse, there are various old tools for everyday use that are reminiscent of the old good days in Japan. And if you are lucky, you can experience an seasonal event like Tanabata, Origami, tea ceremony and so on. As the house normally has few visitors, you can relax and enjoy the atmosphere of a secret cottage.
In the same neighborhood you can also experience a visit to a typical, small but handsome local shrine, Negishi Hachiman Jinja (根岸八幡神社), with a large gate at the entrance (torii). The shrine is decorated with numerous, intricately carved designs in the wood under the peak. Piped-in Shamisen music plays in the background, adding to the traditional ambience of a Japanese shrine.
How to get there: Kyu-Yagishita-Tei is a 10 minute walk from JR Negishi station. Exit the station and turn left. Turn left again just past the Doutor coffee shop. Walk down this road for a minute until you come to a building with brick and blue siding. Turn right and go straight towards the mountainside in the distance. You’ll pass a Shell gas station on your left just before you cross over a large intersection. Go straight up past a school (you can’t miss the yellow bench in front of it) on your right and take the right fork in the road soon after. Almost immediately there is a small park on the right. The house stands on a hill behind the park.
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