Learn about Takayama's golden age and view a striking example of traditional Japanese architecture at the Kusakabe Mingei-kan. This opulent mansion, also known as the Kusakabe Heritage House, once belonged to a well-off merchant family. Explore the interior for insight into how the eponymous family made their fortune and into the type of lifestyle they would have enjoyed.
Built in the 1800s, this house originally served as a residence and as a store, called a Taniya, through which the Kusakabe family conducted a very successful money-lending business.
Inspect the commanding façade of the building, which reflects the dominant styles of the Edo Period between 1600 and 1868. The two-story structure is supported by exposed beams and pillars, made from hinoki, a Japanese Cypress. Examine the intricate latticework on the windows and note the dark finish of the exterior, which was painted using a soot-based wash.
Inside, find vast interior spaces containing preserved family heirlooms that belonged to the Kusakabe family. Revel in the stillness of the Butsuma, a Buddhist altar room, and enjoy a moment's peace in the Nakaniwa, an inner courtyard. See where the family business operated in the Kanjoba, the money-counting room. Other noteworthy rooms include the Zashiki, a lavish welcome hall for guests and ceremonies.
Continue your exploration into the lives of Takayama's elite at the nearby Yoshijima Heritage House, which originally functioned as a saké brewery and residence. The intimate rooms of this preserved mansion are now open to visitors.
Kusakabe Heritage House is located at the northern end of Takayama's old town and a number of fascinating attractions can be found nearby. Walk south along the Miyagawa River to browse fresh food and trinkets at the Miyagawa Morning Market. Stroll past old-fashioned shopfronts along Sannomachi Street on your way to the Takayama Museum of History and Art. This museum features exhibits on the history and traditional lifestyles of Takayama city and the surrounding Gifu Prefecture.
The Kusakabe Heritage House is 15 minutes’ walk east from Takayama Station. The house is open daily and has an admission fee.