In the early Edo period (1603-1867), Tokugawa Mitsumoto (1625-1700), second lord of the Owari branch of the Tokugawa clan, established a vast residence in the Ōzone neighbourhood, as a retreat from the main residence at Nagoya Castle. During the Edo period, a Shimoyashiki (下屋敷) was a smaller residence or retreat of a lord, as opposed to his "upper" or main residence, called Kamiyashiki (上屋敷). After his death, the property was passed on to the families of his three retainers Naruse, Ishiko and Watanabe, until the Meiji Restoration of 1867, when ownership was returned to the Owari Tokugawa.
In 1931, Tokugawa Yoshichika (1886-1976), 19th head of the Tokugawa family, decided that "the time had come to present the property to the community", and donated the land of 23,000 m2 and buildings to the City of Nagoya. Included in the donation were family treasures and the establishment of the Owari Tokugawa Reimeikai Foundation. The City opened the garden in 1932, and the foundation opened the art museum in 1935. The garden however was destroyed during World War II, leaving only the main Black Gate (Kuro-mon) intact.
The Black Gate is made out of wood with a large gabled roof. Some of the walls and structures surrounding the gate are also originals from before the war. The gardens were restored in 2004. Today, the complex houses the Tokugawa Art Museum, the Hōsa Library and the Tokugawa Garden. Together, they are a showcase of the might and culture of the Owari Tokugawa.
Media related to Ōzone Shimoyashiki at Wikimedia Commons
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