The Tachibana family's residence from the main gate (1945) by UnknownTachibana Museum
Designated as a national site of scenic beauty, Tachibana Garden is located in Yanagawa city, Fukuoka Prefecture. The buildings that still exist today at the site used to be Count Tachibana’s residence. Throughout the Edo period from the 17th to the 19th century, the Tachibana family had ruled the Yanagawa domain as feudal lords and became counts after the Meiji restoration in 1868.
On June 1st, 1910, a new baby girl was born into the family. Her name was Ayako, who later became the 16th head of the family. Lady Ayako became a commoner’s wife, ran a Japanese-style restaurant and lived until the age of 100. Both histories of the count’s residence and the life of Ayako started in 1910. Now, a seven-year-old Lady Ayako will show you the residence where she spent her childhood.
Ayako Tachibana at Seiyokan Annex by UnknownTachibana Museum
Lady Ayako, age 7, in the hall on the 2nd floor of the Western-style building
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to my house!
I’m Tachibana Ayako. I was born a daughter to a family of a count in 1910, more than one hundred years ago, just as this residence was being completed.
Now, please allow me to show you around.
Aerial photograph by UnknownTachibana Museum
Aerial Photograph of Count Tachibana’s Residence
There are plenty of rooms, so be careful not to get lost. When I was a child, there used to be a lot more buildings. For the past hundred years, most of them have been demolished due to various reasons. At present, the remaining buildings are maintained with great care as valuable cultural properties of Tachibana Garden.
Main entrance hall of the Count Tachibana residence (20th century, Showa period) by UnknownTachibana Museum
Entrance Hall in the Western-style Building
Our residence consists of the Western-style building and the Japanese-style building within the same compound, which was not unusual for a mansion of upper class families at that time.
The Western-style building was built as a guest house befitting a reception of the Count Tachibana family. There are two entrance halls, one in the front and the other in the west side of the building. The front entrance was for greeting guests and the west entrance for daily use.
We used to take off our shoes not only before entering a Japanese-style building, but also a Western-style building.
Restroom in Count Tachibana's guesthouse by UnknownTachibana Museum
Restroom in the Western-style Building
Here is a restroom for guests.
One hundred years ago, it was very rare to have a flush toilet system.
The doorknob is made of bronze and decorated with a sophisticated design.
Dining hall by UnknownTachibana Museum
Dining Hall in the Western-style Building
Here is the dining hall. This small door on the left side of the back wall is a service hatch. Dishes were passed through it from the kitchen.
The painting above the mantelpiece is a portrait of Count Tomoharu, the 14th head of the Tachibana family. He is my grandfather.
Portrait of Tachibana Tomoharu (1937) by Mizoe KanjiTachibana Museum
Portrait of Tachibana Tomoharu
This is a portrait of my grandfather, Count Tomoharu, the 14th head of the Tachibana family. He decided to endeavor to promote the development of agriculture in Yanagawa, came back home from Tokyo, and built this mansion in 1910.
I love my grandpa’s mandarin oranges! They were grown at his agricultural experiment station.
Staircase by UnknownTachibana Museum
Staircase Landing in the West Side of the Western-style Building
Turn around here and take a look at the handrail of the staircase, the ceiling decorations and the lighting fixtures. The number of lights and the kind of ceiling decorations vary from room to room.
Ever since we moved in, we always used electric lights here. We used to use a private power generator before electricity was installed in Yanagawa.
Great hall by UnknownTachibana Museum
Drawing Room in the Western-style Building
Please take a look at the tiles of the fireplace. They are decorated with graceful lilies.
The mirror above the fireplace is not used for checking personal appearance, but it is used to make the room look wider.
The furniture in the room is also a hundred years old, so please be careful not to touch or sit on them.
Eastern staircase by UnknownTachibana Museum
Staircase in the East Side of the Western-style Building
The next building is Kasei-kyoku, which used to be the household management office for the Tachibana family. The staircase on this side was not for guests. Therefore, it is designed narrower and simpler than the one for guests on the other side.
Kasei-kyoku by UnknownTachibana Museum
The Kasei-kyoku is the household management office. Many people used to work here to support the household affairs of the Tachibana family. It was located in the center of our house with a space of 24 tatami mats, about 37 square meters. A safe was kept in the closet of the office. The underfloor was hardened with concrete to support the heavy safe.
Safe by UnknownTachibana Museum
I will only show you this safe, but it’s a secret. It was kept in the household management office. It is too heavy to take out and you won’t be able to open it without using three different keys in the right order.
Japanese-style Grand Hall by UnknownTachibana Museum
Japanese-style Grand Hall
When we remove the sliding doors of the three rooms, the space turns into a wide hall.
It was constructed based on the style of the Edo period but it incorporates the latest Western techniques such as paper screens with glass windows, Western-style lighting fixtures and a truss structure supporting the roof. The high ceiling produces the bright space in the room and gives a modern atmosphere suitable for an aristocratic family.
Shoto-en garden at present by UnknownTachibana Museum
This wonderful garden is called ‘Shoto-en’. The view that we can see from here is highly recommended.The scenery has not changed since my grandpa had the garden made one hundred years ago.
The pond, which has water drawn from the canal, is dynamically harmonizing with the beautiful evergreen of the pine trees and the splendid rock arrangement. I’m very proud of this garden!
Living quarters by UnknownTachibana Museum
The building, which stands to the east of the grand hall, has the living quarters for our family.
It is now used as a high-class Japanese-style restaurant of the Tachibana Garden and the interior decoration remains as it originally was.
The highest ranked room is, of course, my grandpa’s room. The view of Shoto-en garden from my grandpa’s room is as beautiful as the one from the grand hall.
Eastern garden by UnknownTachibana Museum
In the 18th century of the Edo Period, there used to be an old residence called ‘Ohana-batake’ and its garden on the east side of the present buildings. My ancestors enjoyed seasonally blooming flowers while walking around the pond in those days. The residence is gone but the garden still exists.
Much later on, we built tennis courts in a part of the garden and they are still used at present. I used to practice tennis very hard there.
Sketch of Tachibana garden by UnknownTachibana Museum
Tachibana Garden, designated as a National Site of Scenic Beauty
My Tachibana family ancestors began with Tachibana Muneshige, a brave warrior in the Warring States period of the 16th century, and the family took charge of ruling the Yanagawa domain as lords over the generations.
In 1738, my ancestor built a villa called ‘Ohana-batake’ for the lord privately living with his family away from Yanagawa Castle. This is the beginning of the history of this site. At present, this area is approximately 28,600 square meters and surrounded by moats. Designated as a national site of scenic beauty, this is Tachibana Garden.
Tachibana Museum by UnknownTachibana Museum
Created by Executive Committee of the 450th anniversary of Tachibana Muneshige’s birth “Discovery & Experience Project of Castle Town and Samurai Culture in Yanagawa”
Supported by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan in the fiscal 2019
Tachibana Garden Chapter2 "Lady Ayako Tachibana"
Tachibana Garden Chapter3 "The History of Tachibana Garden"
Voice acting by Nakamura Oire