The History of Tachibana Garden

Tachibana Garden, designated as a National Site of Scenic Beauty: Chapter 3

By Tachibana Museum


Tachibana Museum by UnknownTachibana Museum

Tachibana Garden

Tachibana Garden, a National Site of Scenic Beauty, is an important cultural institution that beautifully evokes the refined lifestyle of the feudal lord class of Japan's Edo period from 1603 to 1867, formerly the residence of the Tachibana family, the lord of the Yanagawa domain. The estate still houses a splendid collection of antiques that has been passed down through successive generations of the Tachibana family, over a period of 400 years. At present, those collections are exhibited at the Tachibana Museum built in the Tachibana Garden, and they fascinate visitors with the beautiful seasonal scenery.

Ynanagawa Meishou-zue (1844) by edited by Nishihara Ippo, illustrated by Koga Tomijirou NanteiTachibana Museum

Chronological table_19E56

1738, the mid-Edo period
The 5th lord of the Yanagawa domain (the 6th head of the Tachibana family), Tachibana Sadayoshi, ordered construction of a villa for spending time with his family in a place called ‘Ohana batake’ which means flower garden.

The Tachibana family's residence from the main gate (1945) by UnknownTachibana Museum

Completion of count's residence_19E57

1910 - Meiji 43
The 14th head of the Tachibana family, Tomoharu, who was raised to the peerage as a count from the domain lord, made extensive new construction on the premises where his ancestors' villa used to be; the residence consists of a Western-style guest house, a Japanese-style reception hall, living quarters, a household management office, a guard house and a beautiful Japanese garden called ‘Shoto-en.’

Tachibana Ayako (20th century, Showa period) by UnknownTachibana Museum

Hotel & Resturant OHANA_19E58

1950 - Showa 25
The 16th head Kazuo, who married the 15th head’s daughter Ayako, began running a hotel and restaurant called ‘Ohana,’ using the residence of the Tachibana family.

Shoto-en garden at present by UnknownTachibana Museum

National scenic beauty 'Shoto-en'_19E59

August 25, 1978 - Showa 53
The area holding the Western-style building, reception hall, living quarters and Shoto-en garden was designated as a national site of scenic beauty collectively named ‘Shoto-en.’

Sketch of Tachibana garden by UnknownTachibana Museum

National scenic beauty 'Tachibana Garden'_19E60

September 21, 2011 - Heisei 23
The designated area was extended to the household management office, the guard house and the eastern garden. As a result, the whole area of the former Count Tachibana family’s residence, approximately 28,600 square meters, was designated as a national site of scenic beauty and renamed ‘Tachibana Garden.’

Yanagawa-jo Castle (1914) by Nakano ShunsuiTachibana Museum

Yanagawa castle town_19E61

The Tachibana Family and Yanagawa Castle Town

The first head of the Tachibana family was Bekki Dosetsu. He was a senior vassal of the Ōtomo clan that was a powerful ruler of the northern Kyushu region during the Warring States period of the 16th century. Dosetsu was known as a fearless warrior and was put in charge of Tachibana Castle. He only had one daughter Ginchiyo and she married a young man named Muneshige. Muneshige then succeeded to the Tachibana Castle and was named Tachibana Muneshige.
Around the same time, the Yanagawa area in central Kyushu was dominated by the Kamachi clan and the Ryuzoji clan in succession. In the midst of all this chaos of the Kyushu region, the most powerful leader of that time, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, decided to conquer that region.
After conquering Kyushu, Hideyoshi granted the Yanagawa domain worth 130,000 koku of rice to Muneshige for his outstanding military service in the battle. One koku equals about 150 kilograms of rice. Then he moved into Yanagawa Castle and became the first lord of the Yanagawa domain. However, he was defeated at the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, and lost both his territory and status.
Twenty years later, Muneshige made a miraculous comeback to the Yanagawa domain as the lord by gaining the deep trust of the Tokugawa shogunate family. From that time, the Tachibana family ruled the Yanagawa domain having 110,000 koku throughout the Edo period until the 12th lord in 1871.

Ynanagawa Meishou-zue (1844) by edited by Nishihara Ippo, illustrated by Koga Tomijirou NanteiTachibana Museum

Ohana-batake Villa_19E62

The OHANA-BATAKE Villa in the Edo Period

The 5th lord of the Yanagawa domain, Tachibana Sadayoshi, ordered construction of a villa for his concubine and children on the southwest corner of Yanagawa Castle in 1738 and named it ‘Ohana-batake’ or Flower Garden. The villa was located in the quiet place surrounded by the outer moat of the castle, so it later became the private place for the successive lords to stay and rest from their administrative duties.

Ohana Garden (20th century, Showa period) by UnknownTachibana Museum

Eastern garden_19E63

The Eastern Garden in the Edo Period

In the Ohana-batake villa, there used to be a Chisen Kaiyu style garden, which is a garden with a big pond surrounded with seasonal flowers that visitors can enjoy while strolling around it. Even now, this style of garden can be seen in the remaining mansions of daimyo feudal lords such as the Suizenji joju-en Garden of the Hosokawa family in Kumamoto and the Sengan-en Garden of the Shimazu family in Kagoshima.
The illustration depicting the Eastern garden of the Tachibana family in the Edo period 18th century shows cherry trees, maple trees, irises and other plant life around the pond. We can imagine how people enjoyed the view throughout the four seasons in this garden.

Tachibana Family (20th century, Showa period) by UnknownTachibana Museum

Count Tachibana_19E64

The Count Tachibana Family

Tachibana Tomoharu inherited the headship of the Tachibana family from the last lord of the Yanagawa domain and became the 14th head of the family. Under the policy of Haihan-chiken in 1781, the feudal system was abolished and feudal lords became government officials appointed by and working for the central government in Tokyo. Due to this, Tomoharu moved to Tokyo. In 1884, he was honored as count in accordance with the Peerage Law. In 1889, he moved his living base back to Yanagawa.
Tomoharu made extensive new construction on the premises that the Tachibana family’s villa used to be on. He built a Western style building and directly behind it is a Japanese structure that looks out onto the vastness of the Shoto-en garden. This count’s residence was completed in May of 1910, and its new style of being a massive mansion surprised people in Yanagawa. The members in the Tachibana family mainly spent their daily life in the traditional Japanese-style rooms facing the garden. The pictures from those days show the men wearing Western clothes while the women are shown wearing kimonos.

Great hall by UnknownTachibana Museum

Count Tachibanas' residence_19E65

The Count Tachibana Family in the Meiji Period

Large-scale architecture consisting of Western-style building and Japanese-style building was becoming the mainstream of the upper class residence in the late Meiji period of the 20th century. For the Count Tachibana’s residence, the main entrance and the drawing room were arranged in the Western-style while the reception hall was in the Japanese-style.
The latest technology for that period was also introduced in this residence. For example, the electric lighting, paper screens with glass windows and king post truss structures which supported the roofs of the Western-style building and the reception hall.

Main entrance hall of the Count Tachibana residence (20th century, Showa period) by UnknownTachibana Museum

Westerb-style building_19E66

The Western-style building is a two-story wooden house, and the beautiful triple arch welcomes guests at the entrance. The grand and luxurious interior decorations are suitable for the Count’s residence. The shiny wooden surfaces of the doors and staircases have been polished during its 100 year history.

Japanese-style Grand Hall by UnknownTachibana Museum

Reception hall_19E67

The Japanese-style building is a single-story wooden house. The reception hall consists of three rooms: two which have 18 tatami-mats, and one which has 12 tatami-mats. They are all facing the Shoto-en garden to the south. Along the edge of the middle room, a large stone is arranged pointing toward the garden. This stone is used for taking off and putting on your shoes when you step into the garden or enter the room.
Inside the reception hall, the most formal interior design: alcoves, built-in shelves and built-in tables, can be seen on both the east and west sides of the room, which are usually arranged on one side. The unique arrangement for the interior design and the panoramic view of the garden gives us new and bright impressions of modern architecture while maintaining the prestigious Japanese style befitting the status of the former feudal lord family.

View of Tachibana's residence from Shoto-en garden (1909) by UnknownTachibana Museum

Shoto-en garden_19E68

Shoto-en Garden in the Meiji Period

The garden facing the reception hall and the living quarters is called ‘Shoto-en’ which was constructed in the Meiji period of the 20th century. It is a landscape garden centered around a spacious pond which is dynamically harmonizing with the beautiful black pine trees, stone lanterns and splendid rock arrangement.
It is said that the design of the rocky islands in the pond reflects the 14th Head Tomoharu’s thoughts. The water of the pond is led to flow in from the canal and then led to flow back to the canal again. Even today, the Shoto-en garden shows its original form to the people except the growth of the pine trees, which reveals the long passage of time.

Sho-to Garden (20th century, Showa period) by UnknownTachibana Museum


Japanese-style Restaurant OHANA

In 1950, the 16th head of the Tachibana family, Kazuo, who married the 15th head’s only daughter Ayako, embarked on running a Japanese-style restaurant and hotel named ‘Ohana’ using the residence of the Tachibana family.
The name ‘Ohana’ came from the affectionate name of the residence given by the people of Yanagawa. It was also adopted for the name of the company that the Tachibana family is still running today.
While it is meeting the needs of the time, the residence remains in its original form. Consequently, the main parts of the residence: Shoto-en garden, the reception hall, the Western-style building, the living quarters, the household management office and the guard house, were designated as a Cultural Property, and ‘Ohana’ became a symbol for sightseeing in Yanagawa.

Shoto-en garden at present by UnknownTachibana Museum

And now‗19E70

And Now

With the flow of time, Tachibana Garden has changed roles from the feudal lords' villa to the Count's residence and Japanese-style restaurant. However, this historical place still remains an important cultural heritage site in Yanagawa. It will never change and will continue to make history for the future.

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