Bukeyashiki: Samurai Residence in Aizu-Wakamatsu

 If you ever wondered how the wealthy samurai lived, make a visit to Bukeyashiki, a reconstructed samurai mansion.
 This was the home of the region's most important and powerful samurai. It burnt down in the 1868 Boshin War but has been reconstructed to look as it did during the Edo period.
 The residence is very large, designed to house family, employees, guests, and students.
 Rooms are visible from outside and show daily life and important historical events.
 There's a small garden and pond in the back of the complex.
 Most of the rooms have mannequins displaying the room functions, such as this room for entertaining guests (outside shot below).

 Rooms without mannequins have displays of goods. Here are two rooms with armor and weapons and furniture..
 In 1868, the women in the family commited suicide in this room (in the original building). The form of ritual suicide by sword is called jijin.
 Here are three ladies of the house in their kimono in a happier time, apparently.
 This is a bath made of cypress wood; water was boiled in the room behind the bath and then carried bucket by bucket to the bath. Japanese baths are designed to hold heat in as much as possible so the water would hopefully stay hot long enough for most of the family to enjoy it. Remember that Japanese people do not bathe in a bath.
 There is a working water wheel in an outbuilding.
 This room is where the maidservants lived and trained.
 One room (with hardwood floors instead of tatami!) has a collection of pottery and housewares.
 More rooms with weaponry and armor.
 If I remember correctly, this is a depiction of the women's suicide. Note the child...
 On a lighter note, here is some clothing from the west.
 The tea house is a separate building from the main house.
 The room inside replicates a Tsuraga Castle tea ceremony room.
 Some screens and other art are on display in a modern building that also houses a major gift shop.
 This shrine was built after the samurai's death to show his faith in the god of study and examination.

It was certainly interesting to see the displays that show the way of life of the samurai. Having traveled around a lot of Japan and seeing several castles, museums, and old homes, I'm familiar with the dress, equipment, and room styles which didn't really change much (from my perspective) for hundreds of years. Tatami mats, kimono, armor, and paper screens are all very familiar to me now, so the story behind this residence (the suicide, the way of life in Aizu, etc) is what really interests me here. Unfortunately, I can't find my pamphlets/English information to help me retell those stories to you in detail.

I mentioned the major gift shop. I believe it's the largest single gift shop in Aizu (though Iimoriyama has several shops that combine to take up more space) which means it has more unique items. I also felt the prices here were comparable to, or cheaper than, other shops around town. I bought my souvenir akabeko (red cow) at the castle, which I think was a little cheaper. But as for other Aizu gifts such as omiyage - food souvenirs, locally produced crafts, and your standard trinkets for foreign tourists, this is your best bet... again, on average.

Admission is 850 yen and the residence is open 8:30-17:00 (9:00-16:30 December to March). Get off at the Aizu Bukeyashiki-mae stop, which is right in front.

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