Matsubara Shimoyashiki (Ohama Palace)


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Ohama-goten ('Honourable Beach Palace'), more properly known as the Matsubara-shimoyashiki ('Lower Residence in Matsubara'), was built by Ii Naonaka, the lord of Hikone Domain and the father of Ii Naosuke, in 1810. In recent years the preserved residence has been infrequently opened to the public. I took such an opportunity to visit; the gardens and premises were open though none of the buildings could be entered.

The landscape garden, a locally designated cultural asset since 2000 as a rare remnant of a daimyō garden, I admittedly found a little lacklustre, but it is apparently best viewed in autumn. It's also said to be unique in that it has the only fresh water pond which sees the water level rise and fall with the tide - namely that of Lake Biwa. Originally four tea pavilions were positioned around the garden, but none of these remain. There was also once four bridges spanning the pond, and a sotetsu (cycad palm), also now gone.

I was mostly concerned with the residential architecture which survives - though some of it is in need of some tender loving care, as they say (parts of the residence were under scaffolding during my visit). There are several living halls and kura (storehouses). The halls include the oku-zashiki (inner living room) and daidokoro (kitchen), dating to the Edo period. There is also a bansho (guardhouse) and nagaya (rowhouse). There was originally a shoin (drawing room), boathouse, and a large kabukimon for the main gate, but sadly these are now lost. The striking genkan (entrance parlour) and ôhiroma (great hall) weren't added until 1889. In the Meiji period the Ii Clan retired from their roles as feudal lords and made Ohama-goten their regular residence.

  • Genkan serves as the entrance to the residence

  • Matsubara Shimoyashiki (Ohama Palace) Profile
    English Name Matsubara Shimoyashiki (Ohama Palace)
    Japanese Name 彦根藩松原下屋敷・お浜御殿
    Year 1810
    Residence Type Daimyo
    Features Garden, House, Warehouses
    Visitor Information Last opened 2024/4/27-5/5; free
    Location Hikone, Shiga Prefecture
    Castle Hikone Castle
    Coordinates 35° 17' 9.89" N, 136° 15' 2.41" E
    Hikone Castle and nearby Samurai Homes
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    Added Jcastle 2024
    Contributor ART

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