Toyama Memorial Museum
Congratulations to Kawajima Town and the Toyama Memorial Museum for the designation of the old Toyama residence as an important cultural property of the country. This is one that is close to my heart. As it was the very first place I visited after moving in to my new home in Saitama in 2006. I revisited last year for the Dolls Festival display.
Toyama Memorial Museum
The Toyama Memorial Museum is the former residence, or heritage home, of the founder of Nikko Securities, Gen-ichi Toyama. It is not divulged why, but the Toyama family were forced to leave this house he was born in when he was young. I sense there is a great backstory to this. Indeed what is known of the story of Gen-ichi Toyama’s life is very illustrious. He was a fascinating man who achieved great success, but never forgot where he came from. The purchase of the old family home to gift to his Mother in recognition of all she had overcome, is evidence enough of his nostalgia and of his formidable character.
When Gen-ichi bought his parent’s old house not only did he have the original building renovated, he also built additional wings to the house and an impressive gate complete with moat. They built each wing in a different design and they connect by corridors. And each building and room within has something unique to offer. Upon completion and to this day, it is one of the most impressive architectural structures in the Hiki district of Saitama.
There are preserved period houses and heritage homes all around Japan. I have only been to a few. But of the ones that I have been to, the former residence of the Toyama is my personal favourite. It may be partly that it plays to my own sentimentality, but stepping into the Toyama house is like stepping back in time.
In addition to the beautiful buildings there is a museum on the grounds that houses, among other things, six antiques that, like the house, are also cultural properties. The grounds themselves are very impressive with beautiful gardens that are particularly colorful in spring and autumn. They have some maple leaves that first turn orange, then red, in late Autumn. In spring they have two different traditional displays of Japanese dolls: hina in March and kabuto in May.
Dolls Display Kawajima
Every year both the museum building in the old storehouse and the residence exhibit marvelous hina displays. There is only one display in the house and one in the museum. However, there are also antique dolls on display in the museum. And the displays are magnificent. In 2022, the dolls will be on display from the Emperor’s birthday, Friday February 11th to until Sunday March 13th.
The photo on the right above is some of the dolls on display in the annex. The main display, pictured in the middle, is in the main building, the formidable former home of Gen-ichi Toyama. However, it is protected behind glass so it is actually quite hard to get a photo of it. They must have been extremely wealthy to live in the mansion that is the Toyama memorial museum. Moreover to have a dolls festival display of this size. I am very curious about a photo at the site (below) that depicts the family with the dolls in 1938 and there are two foreign ladies in kimono also in the photo.
Toyama Memorial Museum Information
Hours: 10 am to 4.30 pm Tuesday to Sunday, closed on Mondays.
Cost: 700 yen for adults, 500 yen for students and free for children under 16 years old.
Address: 675 Shiroinuma, Kawajima-machi, Hiki-gun, Saitama-ken 350-0128
Website: English webpage.
Access Toyama Memorial Museum
By public transport: You can get a Tobu bus bound for Okegawa from Tobu Tojo Kawagoe station and get off at Ushigayato bus stop. Or you can get a bus from Okegawa station on the Takasaki line, bound for Kawagoe, and get off at the same stop. It is about a 15 minute walk from the bus stop.
By car: the museum is close to the Kawajima Interchange of the Ken-o expressway. When you come off the Interchange stay left after the ETC gates and merge onto route 254. Turn left at the first set of traffic lights and follow the road until you see the sign for Toyama Memorial Museum.
Japan’s largest rose tunnel in Heisei No Mori park: