Wakabayashi Residence

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The oldest and most well preserved house in Murakami, the Wakabayashi Residence is an Important Cultural Property. Unfortunately, I do not have a photo of it, but there is also a very interesting small nagayamon gate with a thick thatch roof too. A photo of it can be seen on this site: http://www.niitabi.com/murakami/wakabayasi/01syasin.html

  • Wakabayashi House
  • House
  • House and garden
  • House and garden
  • Garden
  • House

  • Wakabayashi Residence Profile
    English Name Wakabayashi Residence
    Japanese Name 若林家住宅
    Year late 1700s to 1800
    Residence Type Middle Class
    Designations Important Cultural Property
    Features Gates, Garden, House
    Visitor Information open 9-16:30, closed Dec 29 - Jan 4; 200 yen
    Website http://www.city.murakami.lg.jp/site/kanko/wakabayashike.html
    Location Murakami, Niigata Prefecture
    Castle Murakami Castle
    Coordinates 38° 13' 34.14" N, 139° 28' 51.82" E
    Murakami Castle and nearby Samurai Homes
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    Visits October 9, 2011
    Added Jcastle 2018

    (2 votes)
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    56 months ago
    Score 0++

    若林武家屋敷 [村上] Wakabayashi-Bukeyashiki (Murakami)

    The Wakabayashi-Bukeyashiki in Murakami is a middle-class samurai home built in 1787. The patriarch earned 150石. The hanging fish over the veranda are a local speciality. The guide was a very gracious host and served soup with wasabi from the hearth. This home features an intriguing hiding space behind a false wall. In the guest room, the most lavish room in any samurai residence, the tokonoma (alcove) is located. In the Wakabayashi house the tokonoma is unusually narrow, in fact I would say that it is only half the width of most Tokonoma. This is true for both the right and left alcoves. The reason is that there is a fake wall behind the hanging scroll. It is accessed by a slim, secret panel which can be pulled back on the veranda. Behind is a sort of vertical crawl space used for hiding inside in the event that the home ever came under attack during the localised political struggles of the Edo period which sometimes turned very violent. My guide showed me this hiding place and then took from it a weapon. I said, "you have a bokutou" and he said, "it's not a bokutou," and unsheathed an actual sword - the saya and tsuka looked just like a bokken and there was no tsuba - so it was quite the surprise. He then demonstrated how a samurai may discover this hiding place and, lifting up the hanging scroll, stab through the fake wall to get at anybody hiding behind it. There was much drama and flourish here, and he afterward performed a very smart chiburi. I guess in his demonstration the hiding space didn't work for the occupants, but it certainly fooled me.

    The narrow candle on a stick in the guest room was lit between visitor and the home owner at night. This created a light between them so they could see the space between themselves and each other, although sometimes you couldn't even see each other. Candles were not cheap and so most meetings at night would've been very dark with one candle. Generally these samurai homes are very dark and the interiors are gloomy even in the day, especially when you want to shut out the cold.