Touring Saijikan…

Continued from Hinamatsuri…


I followed Mrs. A through the gate and down the stepping stone path that led to the genkan (front entrance). The home has another entrance (will be pictured later)  that is right off of the kitchen which was the service entrance for staff and deliveries and such.

This is the grand formal entrance that family, friends and guests used.


Obviously now it’s a historical site with information and posters plastered all over but I tried to imagine what it looked like in 1898. I wanted to get a straight on shot but there were some dolls displayed directly in the front entrance that were not allowed to be photographed.

I was being watched so I slunk over to the side to take my photo.

I took this shot from the gate that led to the garden area. Peeking around the corner I got a glimpse of the other side of the house.

Once inside I actually thought of how I could sneak a photo or two…I know, I know…bad. The dolls were exquisite. Such painstaking detail and so lifelike. Just one photo..?

The caretaker must have read my mind because he hovered. To my relief he did say that I could take photos of everything else. At first I thought he said NO photos, period! Gah! Can you imagine? Me? No photos?


The first tatami room to the right had a small collection of origami Hina dolls. There are origami classes for adults and children that are held here several times a week and I am guessing these dolls were made by the students. Cute-I’d actually love to learn how to make origami dolls-I cant even fold paper in half straight.

There were also some photos of the original owner of the home and his family. Why does he look so familiar?



The dolls and photos were displayed in the tokonoma or alcove that pretty much every tatami room has. Our tatami room has one.

Mrs. A was admiring the noren that was made from old kimono material. This gave me an idea….


I stepped out into the hallway and was overwhelmed by the beauty of the wood flooring and walls….and then I looked out of the window…



A gently arched bridge spanned the way between one section of the home and the other.

The home was unfolding around me bit by bit…little glimpses here and there through hundreds of small glass panes. Whole walls made of thin glass and wood…so simple and delicate and so beautiful to me.

Pointing the way to the room we had just left-displaying the origami Hina dolls.

We were actually free to wander the home unchaperoned. We padded silently down the hallway in our stocking feet guessing which was the correct way to go. There were so many hallways it was like a maze.

Leaving the the hallway with the view of the bridge.

We sort of wandered around until we saw a sign that pointed the way to the grand tatami room. IMG_3233

Out of every window you could see a little garden or gate. There were so many little nooks and spaces!



Another hallway and one more turn around the corner (well..two actually) and we found the grand tatami room.

It is really grand!


The display of dolls was magnificent! There were some very old dolls dating back 500-800 years!


The Emperor and Empress were displayed in all their glory!




There were dozens of little dolls that displayed the royal court and furniture.





There were beautiful displays of Hagoita, patchwork mobiles and kimono.

We made a lovely new friend that afternoon-Mrs.K who is one of the caretakers for the house. She gave us some interesting information about the age of the dolls and bits and pieces about the lives of the original owners.


So many little panes of glass! Mrs. K said that the owners had many servants. I’m guessing you would have had to have many servants to keep all the windows clean! She also told us that there is a cleaning crew that comes daily to clean the house. All of the windows have little wooden frames around each pane of glass. I know from my own Japanese style home that it takes a lot of effort to keep dust off of the wood! I can only imagine how sore a finger wrapped in a dust cloth would get cleaning those little ledges everyday! Much less all the rest of it!



After a lovely visit to the grand tatami room we said good bye to Mrs. K and wandered back down through the hallways so that we could sit for a while and enjoy a cup of matcha and a small treat.


If you look carefully you can see a modern kitchen was installed some time ago.


A view from the other side of the bridge-remember the red noren?

We passed the tea ceremony room and a lovely child’s kimono on display.

Finally after only one wrong turn we were able to find the tea room!

We felt like little girls enjoying our matcha and mochi and imagining what it would be like to live in such a grand home! I remarked that it must be hard work to keep it clean but, after a moment of thought, Mrs. A said….well, if this was your home you would have a full staff to do the work for you!

I thought about that and remarked..but then..what would I do with all my time? Silently we nodded our heads…and gazed out at the gardens..imagining what we would do with all that time in such a grand home…

To be continued….!

6 thoughts on “Touring Saijikan…

  1. Gorgeous. Janine and I visited a doll ‘shrine’ on our bikes on our way to….. (janine will recall). Extraordinary detailing with tiny scraps of fabric.
    Just to make you crazy, I see them all the time at estate sales here as Oregon has had Japanese ties for a long while. At most, $10 for either fabric doll or porcelain doll. I am tempted to buy them but I resist as I am not much of a doll or tshotchke person. It’s very sad. If I knew someone who collected them, I would add to their collection.


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