Tamozawa Imperial Villa Memorial Park 日光田母沢御用邸記念公園
The summer residence of the Japanese Imperial family
In Nikko, not far from the famous temple complexes and shrines is the Tamozawa Imperial Villa and its park. Less popular with visitors, it is thus pleasant to discover in all seasons, for a walk among its 106 rooms...
An imperial villa open to the public
Nikko is one of the favorite destinations for visitors looking for authenticity. The places, renowned for their natural beauty, are home to temples classified as World Heritage by UNESCO as well as many onsens. In parallel with the visit to these temples (possible from Tokyo), we advise you to visit the memorial park of the Tamozawa villa.
This immense villa, installed on a gigantic plot of 23,000 m 2, was built in 1899 and occupied intermittently by the imperial family until 1947, especially during the bombardments of Tokyo during the Second World War. It was created for Prince Yoshihito (future Emperor Taisho) and blends architectural styles from the Edo, Meiji, and Taisho periods. In all, it was used by three emperors. This vacation property has no less than 106 rooms (!), mixing Japanese decor and Western influences. It is rare to be able to visit places occupied by the imperial family, so this is a godsend.
A traditional westernized Japanese building
The villa was built in three stages, resulting from the harmonization of different buildings: first, the Edo period residence of the Tokugawa family, gifted to the imperial family in 1872, moved and rebuilt in 1899, then the remains of a villa from the Meiji period of the Kobayashi family, and finally extensions added at the beginning of the 20th century for the servants.
The villa is now one of the largest wooden buildings in Japan. It bears particular witness to the Meiji period (1868-1912), during which Japan sought to open up to the West. This is why the beginning of the visit can be a little confusing, with the presence of thick carpets, desks, and also a large pool table.
However, the vast majority of rooms have a Japanese aesthetic, with sliding panels, tatami mats, and shôjis. The different rooms are arranged in a row and open onto interior gardens and the large garden of the villa. Many doors are richly decorated.
Finally, the vast Japanese garden, its huge pines, its ponds, and its toro offer a beautiful stroll around this impressive building. The wooden villa, nestled among the trees, is particularly appreciated in autumn when the maple leaves turn red.
Note that all explanations are provided in English and that the visit lasts a maximum of two hours.
Address, timetable & access
TimetableFrom JR or Tobu Nikko Stations, about 30 min on foot, or 10 min by bus to Yumoto or Chuzenji Onsen, Tamozawa stop
PriceAdult: 510 yen ($5.50/5€)Child: 250 yen ($2.75/2.25€)
AccessOpen every day except Tuesday, from April 1 to October 31, from 9 am to 5 pm, and from November 1 to March 31, from 9 am to 4:30 pm.