Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Yamazaki Family’s Cultural Properties in Kawagoe

When you stroll around Kawagoe, you will notice a couple of the traditional confectionery shops are named Kameya (亀屋). A few centuries ago, the confectionery maker was chosen as a dedicated sweets maker for Kawagoe Domain’s lord. Even today, the family business is still prosperous. Thus, unsurprisingly, a few of the old houses and residences belong to the wealthy family. The good news is that two of them are open to tourists!

Yamazaki Museum (山崎美術館)

At the back of the Japanese confectionary maker, Kameya (亀屋), there is a small but quiet museum inside Kameya’s warehouse. The museum, which opened in 1982, was built to celebrate the 150th birthday of the 4th head of the Yamazaki family.

You will find tools for traditional confectionery-making and a collection of paintings by Hashimoto Gahō (橋本雅邦) in the old house. The exhibits differ according to the season, so if you like Japanese art, you may want to stop by the museum more than once.

Hashimoto Gahō, born in Kawagoe Domain, specialized in the style of the Kanō school. At the beginning of the Meiji period, he was one of the first five painters to be appointed as an Imperial Household Artist (帝室技芸員) and was one of the most authoritative painters in Japan in the late 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century.

As the 4th head of the Yamazaki family, Yamazaki Yutaka (山崎豊) was successful in managing the family business and passionate about education. As such, he provided financial support to the artists at the time. This especially included Gahō, who was Kagagoe Domain’s feudal retainer.

All artworks gifted by Gahō were treasured, enabling the Yamazaki Museum’s establishment.

While the entry fee of 500 yen may seem excessive to some, it includes a cup of tea and Kameya’s Kame no Monaka (亀の最中), Kameya’s signature turtle-shaped traditional sweet (refer to the 2nd photo in the left IG post above)!

Yamazaki Museum’s Opening Hours, Admission Fees, and Access Information

  • Yamazaki Museum is open daily from 9:30 am to 5 pm except for Thursdays unless it is a public holiday.
    • The last admission is at 4:30 pm.
    • The museum closes from the 27th of December to the 2nd of January.
  • The admission fee is
    • 500 yen for adults
    • 350 yen for Senior high school and university students
    • 200 yen for elementary and junior high school students
  • Yamazaki Museum is around a 20-minute walk from Kawagoe Station and a 10-minute walk from Honkawagoe Station.
  • If you plan to take If you take the CO-EDO Loop Bus (小江戸巡回バス), get off at Kuranomachi (蔵の街). For Tobu Koedo Loop Bus (小江戸名所めぐりバス), get off at Nakachō (仲町)

The Former Yamazaki Villa (旧山崎家別邸)

Another cultural property connected to the Yamazaki family that is open to the public is the Former Yamazaki Villa, a 3-minute walk away from Yamazaki Museum.

The villa was completed in 1925 as a retirement home for the fifth head of the family. Even the imperial family members stayed at the villa previously. There is even a pine tree planted by the last prince of the Korean Empire in 1929!

The two-story villa was designed by a famous architect of the time, Yasuoka Katsuya (保岡勝也). While it appears to be a Western-style building when seen from the front, it is connected with a one-story Japanese-style house at the back with a traditional-style warehouse attached. The well-maintained building representing Japan’s architectural modernization is now one of the country’s important cultural properties.

Because the villa is partially Western-style and partially Japanese-style, it is a great place to see the differences between the two different cultures. For example, while the ambience is equally relaxing, the veranda in the Japanese-style house and the Western-style house’s decorations are just different!

The dry Japanese garden at the south of the house is another highlight of the villa, designated as a National Place of Scenic Beauty. There is also a tea room on the garden’s east. The tea room is a replica of the Gazen-an (我前庵) of Kyoto’s Ninna-ji (仁和寺).

While the villa’s second floor isn’t open to the public, the rest can be explored. Exploring the villa usually takes around 10 to 20 minutes.

Tip: If you understand Japanese, there is a 30-minute guided tour held at 11 am, 12 pm, 1 pm, and 2 pm. But note it is only available to the first 10 people.

The Former Yamazaki Villa’s Opening Hours, Admission Fee, and Access Information

  • The villa is open from
    • 9:30 am to 6:30 pm from April to September
    • 9:30 am to 5:30 pm from October to March
    • The last admission is taken 30 minutes before the closing time.
    • The villa closes from the 29th of December to the 1st of January and on the first and the third Wednesday of the month. The villa will close on the next business day if it is a public holiday.
  • The admission fee is
    • 100 yen for adults
    • 50 yen for university and senior high school students
  • The Former Yamazaki Villa is around a 15-minute walk from Honkawagoe Station and a 25-minute walk from Kawagoe Station.
  • If you plan to take a bus, the villa is a 5-minute walk from the bus stop, Nakachō (仲町).

Exploring Taishō Roman Yume-dōri Street

Click the photo to find out more about the recommended spots on Taishō Roman Yume-dōri Street!

On the way to Kawagoe’s traditional township, you might walk past Taishō Roman Yume-dōri Street. So how about stopping by the street before heading into the area filled with houses in the Edo period style? Your visit to Kawagoe will be a tour back in time in reverse chronological order!

If that sounds like a good idea, refer to our Guide to the Taishō Roman Yume-dōri Street!

Other Attractions in Kawagoe

Kawagoe’s historical area has many attractions, shops, cafes, and workshops that might interest you. You might also want to visit a couple of interesting shrines and temples and perform simple rituals that might boost your fortune!

So refer to our Guide to the Little Edo, Kawagoe, for more travel ideas!


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