Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Nanshōsō: A Gorgeous Traditional Residence in Morioka

The construction of Nanshōsō (南昌荘) started in 1885. It took a few years for the gorgeous complex including a main house, a tea house, and traditional style garden to be completed. Apparently, the building’s design referenced the Katsura Imperial Palace in Kyoto. The raised floor provides a better angle to view the gorgeous garden. Since its completion, the owner of the property has changed several times, and thus the appearance has changed, too.

Nanshōsō’s History

While it was privately owned, when it was Morioka’s mayor’s property, it was where the reception was held to receive the Japanese Prime Minister of the time and the Korean Crown Prince in 1909.

After World War II, Nanshōsō was once the dormitory of the U.S. Army. This is why the floor of the grand hall, Nanshō no Ma (南昌の間), is covered by timber instead of the tatami mats. More recently, the non-profit organization IWATE COOP (いわて生活協同組合) purchased the residence in 1987. Nanshōsō was then opened to the general public in 2000.

Nowadays, it is a relaxing place where you can enjoy the scenery of the four seasons of a Japanese garden, which is why many people visit it every year. Because of what it offers, it was chosen as a TV drama and movie shooting location in the 2000s.

If you have time, enjoy a cup of matcha green tea or coffee and a traditional confectionery at Nanshō no Ma (refer to the 8th photo in the IG post). The seats lined the veranda have the perfect setting to chill!

© 一般社団法人東北観光推進機構

As you can imagine, the garden is the most beautiful during the fall foliage season. The beautiful garden view is reflected on the polished floor when the lighting is right.

During the Dolls Festival season, from late February to the beginning of March, gorgeous traditional dolls will be on display.

From late April to the beginning of May, samurai-related decor is used to decorate the residence’s large hall to celebrate the Children’s Day on the 5th of May.

While in Japanese, here is the residence’s map.

  • The areas that are colored in orange represent the buildings in the complex.
  • The light blue part is where the pond is.

Our Visit to Nanshōsō

We visited Nanshōsō in late April. While the cherry blossom season has passed in Morioka, we got to appreciate the incredibly made samurai dolls and samurai-themed folding screens at Nanshōsō.

A small clothes market was held inside the property when we were there. But what quickly caught our attention was the wedding photoshoot session. The engaged couple was in the splendid traditional outfit having their wedding photos taken at various spots in the traditional house. Even the small dog was dressed up!

The staff at Nanshōsō was kind and considerate. Just when we were thinking to leave, a staff invited us into the heated tatami-mat-covered room to warm up.

While we weren’t cold at the time, we accepted her kindness and stayed in the cozy room for a couple of minutes. The sofa chairs were soft and comfortable and the windows on the sliding doors allowed us to peek into Nanshōsō’s beautiful garden.

Nanshōsō’s Opening Hours, Admission Fee, and Access Information

  • Nanshōsō is open from 10 am to 5 pm from Wednesday to Sunday.
    • From December to March, it opens early at 4 pm.
    • It closes from the 26th of December to the 10th of January.
  • The admission fee is:
    • 300 yen for adults
    • 150 for elementary to junior high school students
  • Nanshōsō is a 20-minute walk from JR Morioka Station (盛岡駅) or a 5-minute walk from the bus stop, Shimonohashi-chō下(の橋町).

Discover the Must-Visit Attractions in Morioka

When you hear of Morioka, Wanko Soba and Morioka cold noodles are probably the two first things that come to mind. But the city isn’t just about food. It also has many cultural attractions, hot springs, nature and more!

So refer to our Morioka article for ideas about where to stop by when visiting Iwate Prefecture’s capital city!

Azumaya Honten Morioka Iwate Japan
Click the photo for travel ideas in Morioka!

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