The Chigasaki City Heritage Museum operates two late Edo period houses, on the north side of town, situated on either side of Jokenji Temple, the Wada House and the Mitsuhashi House. These houses are significant pieces of Chigasaki’s history that offer a glimpse into how the people lived in the Feudal Era. Entry is free and both houses are worth a visit for those who are interested in Chigasaki’s history.
The Wada house was completed in 1855 in the Chigasaki’s Hagisono district by Wada Seiemon. The Wada family patriarchs were Nanushi, or village headmen. These were usually farmers or merchants who worked with samurai class administrators to run the village. The Wadas lived in this home until it was moved to its current location.
The Wada house is significant as it is a typical Edo period home built by a prominent local family. It was built from high quality materials, and there have been few alterations made over the last 130 years. Today, it’s in the small park in front of Jokenji Temple. It is open from 9:00 until 16:00 and occasionally hosts exhibitions. On December 4th, from 9:30 until 13:00 there will be a work day to clean the old house. Only the first 50 volunteers will be able to participate, so if you are interested, call the Heritage Museum at 0467-85-1733 to sign up.
The Mitsuhashi house’s history is similar to its counterpart. It was completed in 1828 in the Kagawa district of northern Chigasaki. Like the Wadas, the Mitsuhashis were village headmen and prominent figures in their community, and theirhouse is a fine example of the architecture of the time. The home was occupied by six generations of Mitsuhashis before it was donated to the city in 1972.
What sets the Mitsuhashi house apart is that it has seen no significant alterations or repairs. Of the two houses, Mitsuhashi house is better documented. The city still has many of the house’s original documents and the builder’s plate was found when it was reconstructed. The house is behind Jokenji Temple and may be hard to find for those who don’t know it is there. Currently, Mitsuhashi house is closed due to damage sustained in a typhoon in September.
This article is from Chiagasaki Breeze #66.
Written and photographed by Dave Hanschen