- Takeshi Senuma
Appreciate the Architectural Beauty of the State Guest House, a National Treasure of Japan [PR]
The State Guest House Akasaka Palace is a national treasure and Japan's only Neo-Baroque style building. It is situated in the corner of a forest in the center of Tokyo. When it isn't hosting foreign dignitaries from all over the world, it is open to the general public. Here's an introduction to all the charms it holds!
- Introducing the State Guest House Akasaka Palace
- Combining the Beautiful Elements of Traditional Japanese and Modern Western Architecture: State Guest House, Akasaka Palace
- Experience Japanese Beauty Up Close: the Japanese-style Annex, Yushintei
- To the Main Building
- Protected by Mythical Golden Birds: Sairan no Ma
- Adorned with Cloisonné Ware Depicting Birds and Flowers: Kacho no Ma
- Ceiling Art That Beckons You to the World of Noh: Hagoromo no Ma
- The Most Stately Room: Asahi no Ma
- Photo Spots with Gorgeous Scenery: Main and Front Gardens
Introducing the State Guest House Akasaka Palace
Admire the beauty of this gorgeous building that perfectly blends together Japanese and Western architectural elements through video!
Combining the Beautiful Elements of Traditional Japanese and Modern Western Architecture: State Guest House, Akasaka Palace
This palace was built 110 years ago in 1909 as the residence for the Crown Prince of Japan, who would later become Emperor Taisho. Its architectural design was world-class during the early 20th century: a fusion of the latest Western science and technology of the time and traditional Japanese craftsmanship and design.
With the passage of time, the palace became the residence of Emperor Showa, and after him, the current Emperor (Heisei). In 1974, it was reborn into the state's guest house and assumed the role as a stage for diplomatic activities, welcoming kings, presidents, prime ministers, and other prominent figures from all over the world.
In 2009, it was officially designated as a national treasure. While it is still used as a venue for welcoming foreign dignitaries, tours for certain sections of the palace are now available to the general public as of 2016. Pay a visit and thoroughly enjoy the unique and alluring world presented by this splendid combination of modern Western architecture and traditional Japanese beauty.
Two warrior statues wearing armor protect the palace from on top of the roof.
Experience Japanese Beauty Up Close: the Japanese-style Annex, Yushintei
Yushintei is a Japanese-style annex surrounded by lush greenery located east of the Main Building. This is where visitors can best experience Japanese beauty within the palace's premises. It was built in 1974, the same year that Akasaka Palace became the State Guest House. The Japanese hospitality that radiates from the refined and subdued beauty permeating throughout the traditional Japanese building and garden, as well as the tea ceremonies and Japanese cuisine offered here, all serve to warmly welcome foreign dignitaries.
Go through the front entrance of Yushintei and look to your right. Your eyes will be drawn to the stunning scenery of the garden, which incorporates white gravel, Kibune stones, and green bamboo stalks.
Bonsai that are over 100 years old decorate the premises, welcoming guests to Japan.
The plaque on the wall displays the name of the annex, Yushintei (游心亭), in Japanese characters. Yushin (游心) is an old Japanese word that refers to letting your heart run free and have fun. This building follows in the spirit of its name, serving as a place for guests to forget about their everyday affairs and indulge in the world of Japanese beauty.
One of the highlights of Yushintei is the Tea Room where dignitaries get to experience traditional Japanese tea ceremonies. In this tatami room, your eyes will be drawn to the ceiling, which has beautiful cedar wood detailing.
The hanging scrolls that decorate the back alcove are incredibly important in traditional Japanese tea ceremony culture. This tea room’s alcove features one of the brilliant works of the chief abbot of Daitoku-ji, an ancient Kyoto temple which is deeply connected to the history of Japanese tea ceremonies. Make sure you take the time to appreciate it!
To the Main Building
Return to the Main Building and you'll be treated to the sight of the Neo-Baroque style palace, which presents a unique visage with its sides curving out in front.
The Entrance Hall that lays beyond the front doors is spectacular, with flooring, walls, and pillars made of marble from Italy and France. The crimson red carpet that extends from the hall goes all the way past the central stairway and into the second floor. The guest rooms on the second floor are used for various events and ceremonies when state guests visit. They all have different designs, but each room incorporates Japanese elements suitable for their intended purpose.
Protected by Mythical Golden Birds: Sairan no Ma
Situated just right ahead of the front entrance, this is the first guest room that guests come across when they enter the State Guest House. It is currently used for events such as signing ceremonies for agreements and leadership conferences.
You will find golden embellishments of mythical Chinese birds known as ran (鸞) mounted on top of the great mirrors and mantelpieces of marble fireplaces, which are found in the left and right sides of the room. The name of the room, Sairan no Ma (彩鸞の間), is derived from the name of these birds.
The decor of the room, featuring armor, headpieces, and swords, harks back to the Empire style of interior decorating that took Europe by storm in the early 19th century. However, what makes it unique are the traditional Japanese warrior elements added to the design, such as the addition of Japanese swords.
Adorned with Cloisonné Ware Depicting Birds and Flowers: Kacho no Ma
This room is the dedicated banquet space for foreign dignitaries. The basic design follows the Henri II style, which was all the rage in France during the late 16th century, and beautifully incorporates Japanese elements. In particular, feast your eyes on the 30 cloisonné* medallions, depicting flowers and frolicking birds in front of a seasonal backdrop. The beauty of the washed-out colors will have you mesmerized, and the flowers and birds painted on the medallions are said to be some of the best in all of Japan. Don't miss out on seeing the cloisonné medallions in this space made of ash wood from Kiso, a town known for its wood.
*Cloisonné (known as "shippo" in Japanese) refers to an ancient kind of metalware.
Ceiling Art That Beckons You to the World of Noh: Hagoromo no Ma
Located in the western side of the State Guest House, this room was once a ball room. Nowadays, it is used to hold welcoming ceremonies on rainy days, and it is also the place where aperitifs are handed out to banquet guests.
Take a look at the ceiling when you're in this room. You'll discover a ceiling painting depicting a passage in a song from the Noh play Hagoromo. The beautiful sight of the ceiling painting illuminated by three chandeliers, which are the largest in the palace, will take your breath away. Other things to take notice of are the musicians' gallery on the mezzanine floor to the north side of the room, and the motifs shaped like traditional Japanese instruments, such as the tsuzumi (hand drum) and biwa (Japanese lute).
The Most Stately Room: Asahi no Ma
This is the most stately room in the whole palace. It is currently closed due to the restoration of items like the ceiling painting, but it is expected to open again in April 2019.
Photo Spots with Gorgeous Scenery: Main and Front Gardens
The magnificent Main Garden has a fountain at its center and can be found to the south of the Main Building. The area around the fountain, which has a bronze basin installed on top of stone sculptures, is a great photo spot.
Please keep in mind that you can only take photos of the Main Garden, Front Garden, and the Japanese-style Annex Garden. It is forbidden to take photos inside the Main Building and Japanese-style Annex.
There's also a food truck on one corner of the Front Garden that serves 20 afternoon tea sets per day. The food truck's menu changes with the seasons. The photo shows the foods included in the Afternoon Tea (4,600 JPY for 1 set (meant for 2 people) / 20 sets offered per day) for February and March 2019.
Spend an elegant time at the palace!
For a limited period of time, the State Guest House will be open at night, too. You'll be welcomed into a magical, beautifully lit-up world!
Name: State Guest House, Akasaka Palace
Open: Any day except for Wednesday and when a state guest is visiting
Prices: Main Building and Garden (Front and Main): 1,500 JPY/Adult, 1,000 JPY/University Student, 500 JPY/Middle School Student, Free/Elementary School and Below
Japanese-style Annex, Main Building, Garden: 2,000 JPY/Adult, 1,500 JPY/University Student, 700 JPY/Middle School Student *Children of elementary school age and below cannot participate in this tour
Japanese-style Annex and Garden: 1,500 JPY/Adult, 1,000 JPY/University Student, 500 JPY/Middle School Student *Children of elementary school age and below cannot participate in this tour
Garden: 300 JPY/Adult, Free/University Student and Below
*Must reserve in advance for the Japanese-style Annex tour
Address: 2-1-1 Moto-akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Access: Around a 7-minute walk from both the Akasaka Exit of Yotsuya Station on the JR Chuo-Sobu Line, and Exit 1 of Yotsuya Station on the Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line or Namboku Line.
Official Homepage: https://www.geihinkan.go.jp/
The State Guest House is surrounded by greenery, making it a great place to relax. Give it a visit!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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