Ichida Family’s House
In the Edo-era, the Ueno-Sakuragi neighborhood was lined with the sub-temples of Kan’ei-ji Temple, but near the end of the 19th century land was gradually rented out or sold and it became a residential area with many artists, intellectuals and supporters of the arts. In 1907, the residence was built for Zenbei Ichida, founder of an important cloth wholesale business in Nihonbashi. After the war, Ichida’s eldest daughter, Haruko, turned the residence into a boarding house for students of Tokyo University of the Arts Music Department. In time around 30 students passed through its doors.
In 2001 volunteers from the local area and Tokyo University of the Arts formed the Taito Taito Cultural and Historical Society to take advantage of the opportunity to lease the Ichida Family’s House. Since then, the ground floor of the residence has been a focal point for artistic and cultural activities, and acted as a shared house for a new generation.
Presently a two storey building, the Ichida Family’s House was originally a single level house. As the Ichida family grew, a second floor was added in a traditional style known as okagura. The south facing veranda and tatami room looking out over the garden have the air of a sitting room for guests, while the north side houses the family living room, kitchen, bath, and former maid’s quarters. The first floor’s 8-mat tatami room is made of hemlock and Japanese spindletree and is unique in that it lacks the traditional nageshi head-beam that typically runs horizontally around a Japanese room, and the kagetsu-doko floor and alcove that give it an air of a tea ceremony arbor. The wood-framed brick warehouse was used as a Buddhist altar room by the family.
Located between Ueno Park and Yanaka, in Ueno-Sakuragi’s grove of art and culture, the Ichida Family’s House preserves the feeling of the old temple and residential neighborhoods to share with people today. It aims to be a focal point of preservation, artistic, and cultural activities in the area and to help people understand the value of living in traditional houses.
With the help of the Ichida family, repair work began in 2001. Wooden beams, tiles, tatami mats, and other furnishings were all repaired or replaced by a local construction firm while residents and volunteers repaired the sliding shoji and fusama doors and rust-proofed the metal annex. Also, local organizations assisted with sorting through the Meji-era business records of the household.
Various events that allow people to feel and better understand the atmosphere and value of traditional houses are held in the tatami room. Events have included mochi making, storytelling, traditional music, Japanese food and drink sampling, and planning of new local projects. To volunteer, contact the Taito Cultural and Historical Society.
Sometimes, the Ichida Family’s House holds a children’s open day. Through experiencing the feeling of being in a traditional house and garden, it is hoped that children come to value Japanese culture and their neighborhood in the future. In addition, planning for a parent-run cafe and restaurant takes place here.
The Ichida Family’s House Tea Ceremony Group holds a traditional tea ceremony during Yanaka’s Geikoten art and craft festival each autumn. In the words of one of the craftsmen who restored the house “Tea ceremony is the synthesis of Japanese art. If one lives in this house, one should do tea.”
The Ichida Family’s House also allows groups with a similar focus to use the tatami room for events. The entryway and connected 6 and 8-mat tatami rooms are available. There is a fee for use of the space and funds go towards preservation activities. For details, please inquire below.
Address：1-6-2 Uenosakuragi, Taito-ku, Tokyo, 110-0002 Japan（Map）