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Entrance to Northern Culture Museum, formerly the Japanese-style mansion of the Ito farming family who were a wealthy landowner from the 18th century.1 comments
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The museum is within a spacious, garden-like grounds. It includes the main house, tea houses, storehouse, and a few shops and restaurants.
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Monument for Itoh Bunkichi VII (1896-1958) and Lt. Ralph E. Wright (from Peoria, Illinois). Right after WWII in 1945, they saved the property from being demolished due to the Land Reform Act.
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Acting on reports that the Itoh property was storing hidden materials for the old Imperial Army, Lt. Ralph E. Wright from the American Occupation forces conducted a search and met Itoh Bunkichi VII, the owner. Photo: Grave of Ralph E. White-Peterson.
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When Wright found out that Bunkichi was a fellow Pennsylvania University graduate, he fully supported the preservation of the property. They saved the property by converting it into a museum. A foundation was established and the property was donated to itPictured is Ralph Wright and Itoh Bunkichi VIII (1927- ), the son of Bunkichi VII (1896-1958).1 comments
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It was Japan's first private museum to receive governmental approval. During the years following, it took several years to rebuild the garden and buildings. This is the museum office next to the entrance.
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Entrance foyer (unused). I had the pleasure of meeting Itoh Bunkichi VIII who explained about how the property was saved by Lt. Wright. He was the one who built the monument for his father and Lt. Wright.
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The first room you see is this Cha-no-ma living room where the head of the household greeted guests. Built in 1885-1887, the house has more than 60 rooms, with a floor space of about 4,000 sq. meters. 茶の間
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Cha-no-ma living room
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Corridor facing the courtyard.
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Display of stuffed toki or crested ibis, an endangered species. Official bird of Niigata and raised on Sado island.
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Irori hearth next to the kitchen. 囲炉裏
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Hearth in the kitchen. A bale of rice (60 kg) was cooked every day. Over 50 maids, cooks, and other servants worked in the house.
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2nd floor exhibition room displays various artifacts of the Itoh family. The room formerly served as a storeroom and workroom for making futon and rags. 考古資料館
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Plate
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Courtyard garden as seen from the 2nd floor.
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Corridor
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Veranda
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Lacquerware on display
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Room with a view: This is the centerpiece of the former home, a large drawing room (Ohiroma) used for large gatherings. It gives a marvelous view of the garden. 大広間
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Ohiroma drawing room and adjacent garden in autumn.
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Ohiroma drawing room
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Veranda of Ohiroma drawing room
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Ohiroma drawing room was used only a few times a year for wedding and funeral receptions, etc.
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With 100 tatami mats, the Ohiroma drawing room is the most impressive room in the house.
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Courtyard garden 中庭
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Courtyard garden
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Veranda along the courtyard garden
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Corner of rear drawing room (urazashiki)
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Impressive garden views from the rear drawing room (urazashiki)
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The rear drawing room was where guests would wait until they were welcomed into the Ohiroma main drawing room.
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Garden facing the drawing rooms. 庭園
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Rear drawing room (Urazashiki) adjacent to the Ohiroma main drawing room.
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Built in 1891, Sanraku-tei, a highly unusual triangular tea house. 三楽亭
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Inside Sanraku-tei with unusually shaped tatami mats to fit the triangular floor. It has three rooms, one was a study and another was a tea ceremony room.
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Museum office
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Inside the Shukokan rice warehouse, now an antique exhibition room. 集古館
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Inner Gate. Museum Web site
   
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