Introduction of Former Maeda Family’s Principal Residence (Western and Japanese Building)
History: Komaba Park, the second largest park in Meguro Ward, is where there used to be the residence of Marquis Maeda Toshinari, the 16th head of the Maeda family. The family’s original founder Maeda Toshi-ie ruled the Kaga clan (present-day Ishikawa Prefecture and Toyama Prefecture) about 400 years ago. The Maeda family continued to be by far the wealthiest of all the feudal lords under the Tokugawa Shogunate.
Marquis Maeda set up his residence here in 1929.
The reason why the Maeda family got to settle down in Komaba is as follows:
Originally in this neighborhood stood the Komaba School of Agriculture which is known to have made brilliant achievements in modern Japanese agriculture since its foundation in 1878. Later this school was unified into the department of agriculture of Tokyo Imperial University.
The Maeda family then had their residence at Hongo (the present location of Tokyo University Hongo Campus). As Tokyo Imperial University (the department of agriculture) wanted to move to Hongo, they negotiated with the Maeda family and both parties agreed to exchange their respective lands on an equivalent condition. So the former moved out to Hongo and the latter moved in to Komaba.
Making the most of the finest architectural technique of those days, the European-style house was completed in 1929. And the Japanese-style house in 1930. The former is furnished with dressing bricks and tiles, while the latter, a two-story wooden structure, features Shoin-zukuri, the traditional style of Japanese residential architecture.
From his experience of living for certain period in Europe including the U.K. where he served as a military attachè to the Japanese Embassy in London, Marquis Maeda is said to have built the Japanese-style house as a guest house to receive guests of honor from overseas.
The two splendid houses of a typical Japanese aristocrat and his family came into a private company’s hands after Marquis Maeda died a sudden death during the 2nd World War. Furthermore, as soon as the war ended, they were requisitioned by the Occupying Forces of the Allies.
The Maeda family’s houses were used as the residence of the commanding officers of the Occupying Forces of the Allies for thirty-two years until 1957 when the requisition was released. Then the Maeda family’s land, most of which had been owned by another private company, was bought up by the Japanese government.
The present park was opened by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government in 1967 and then the ownership was transferred to Meguro Ward in April 1975.
The main rooms on the first floor of the Japanese-style house are open to the public. They consist of the drawing room and the adjoining room which are together as spacious as a 38.5-tatami-mat room. The drawing room is provided with ‘Tokonoma’ (alcove), ‘Chigaidana’ (staggered shelves ) and ‘Tsukeshoin’ (reading platform) . ‘Ranma’ (transom) with openwork is also equipped.
Both ‘Chashitsu’ and ‘ Washitsu’ can be used on a rental basis.
From the corridor, one can command a wonderful view of the Japanese garden with such trees as pine and maple, a pond with water slowly flowing, lawns and stones, all so harmoniously arranged that a calm and soothing atmosphere is produced.
The European-style house is open to the public on Wednesdays through Sundays. On the north side of the Japanese-style house there is the Museum of Modern Japanese Literature.
On August 7, 2013, buildings such as The European style-and Japanese-style houses and land in the area were valued as expressing the living statues of the aristocratic people in the early Showa era and it was designated as the national important cultural property ’The Former Residence of Marquis Maeda’.
9am–4:30pm (Japanese Building Closes at 4pm)
Mondays (The next day if a holiday falls on Monday).
New year holidays are during December 29–January 3.
How to Use Audio Tour for Former Maeda Family’s Principal Residence (Japanese Building)
Scan the QR codes placed at commentary spots in the building to listen to detail vocal explanation for the spot. You will find 8 spots in the building as illustrated below.
Japanese Building – Ground Plan of the 1st Floor
Japanese Building – Ground Plan of the 2nd Floor