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Kakunodate Samurai District

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Kakunodate Samurai District

The Kakunodate Samurai District (角館武家屋敷, Kakunodate Bukeyashiki) was built during the Edo Period when Yoshikatsu Ashina became the lord of the area in 1620. The district is located about 1 kilometer away from Kakunodate Station. Samurai districts in Japan are referred to as bukeyashiki and the one in Kakunodate is one of the best examples. In its prosperous time 80 samurai families lived in this area. These samurai houses can be recognized by the black fences that mark the perimeter of their estate. Many of the homes in the district are still in their original state and 6 of them are open to the public for free or for a nominal fee. The houses open to the public are the Aoyagi, Ishiguro, Odano, Kawarada, Iwahashi, and Matsumoto. The Odano, Kawarada, Iwahashi, and Matsumoto are free to see from the gardens outside because they do not allow entry into the actual buildings. They serve are great examples of middle class samurai homes.

The Aoyagi was once a powerful samurai family and it is reflected in the impressive grounds their home was built on. The main house was reconstructed in 1860 with permission from the North Satake clan as thanks for their services. Inside the complex they have family heirlooms on display with explanations in English. The Ishiguro family was the accounts or administrators to the North Satake clan as well as samurai. Unlike the Aoyagi house, the Ishiguro house limits the amount of area open to the public because the direct descendants of the family still reside there. Still they display a collection of samurai armor and clothing as well as miscellaneous items. The main draw is the well preserved storeroom that is over 100 years old. The street where all of these houses can be found is famed for the weeping cherry trees (shidarezakura) planted in the various properties. The branches of the trees overflow into the street giving the district an extra grandeur.



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