Homma Museum of Art
Japanese garden listed in the Michelin Green Guide Japan (2009)
The Homma Museum of Art in Sakata City in Yamagata Prefecture is famed for its stunning Japanese gardens. The museum exhibits various objects, collected by the Homma Family, wealthy landowners in the Shonai area, including artworks, crafts and historical materials. Visitors can also explore Seienkaku, the main building which was used as the family's villa, and Kakubuen, a Japanese garden constructed for the villa.
The villa and collections of the Homma Family known to be the largest landowners in Japan
The port city of Sakata flourished as a base for Kitamae-bune ships that sailed between Hokkaido and Osaka by calling at the ports dotting the coastline along the Sea of Japan from the 1800s to 1900s. Among the merchants in Sakata, the Homma Family was known to be the wealthiest, whose exploits were reflected in the lyric of a popular song of the time, "Nobody could ever be a Homma, but everybody would like to be at least a lord." The family's villa and Japanese garden were opened to the public in 1947 by the family in the hope that people in post-WWII Japan would restore hope and confidence through Japanese art. Later in 1968, the new exhibition hall showcasing the family's art collections was built, which came to be known as the Homma Museum of Art.
The traditional Japanese-style architecture and garden that display the glory of the Kitamae-bune
Seienkaku is the Homma Family's two-story country villa built in the traditional Kyoto style of residential architecture in 1813, which also served as Sakata City's guest house that hosted a number of distinguished guests from both home and abroad. Kakubuen, which can be seen from the villa, is a pond-stroll garden created using "meiseki," or famous stones known for their outstanding beauty, transported by Kitamae-bune ships from all over Japan. The garden offers a view of Mount Chokai among the trees in good weather, while letting visitors enjoy the seasonal beauty such as the white azaleas in spring and colorful leaves in autumn. Kakubuen received two stars and Seienkaku a star, respectively, from the Michelin Green Guide Japan (2009).
The Homma residence is also a must-visit
Located about 10 minutes by car from the Homma Museum of Art is the former main residence of the Homma Family. Built in 1768 by the family for the Sakai family, a feudal lord who ruled over the Shonai domain, the house features two different architectural styles of both samurai and merchant residences, which can be rarely found in Japan. The Homma Family lived in the merchant-style part of the residence until 1945. In a single building, you can see the difference of the two styles through each architectural detail such as the quality of the wood, design of the floorboards and craftsmanship in the wall finish. The architecture and the family's art collections let you grasp the prosperity of the port city brought by kitamae-bune trading and the glory of the family who once flourished as the wealthiest merchants in Japan.
|Name||Homma Museum of Art|
|Address||7-7 Onari-cho, Sakata-shi, Yamagata|
|Access||Approximately 30 minutes' drive from Shonai Airport
Approximately 5 minutes' walk from JR Sakata Station
|Business Hours||April to October: 9:00 to 17:00 (final entry: 16:30)
November to March: 9:00 to 16:30 (final entry: 16:00)
|Closed||December to February: Tuesdays and Wednesdays (when one of these days falls on a national holiday, the following day is closed instead.)|
|Inquiries||TEL: 0234-24-4311 (Homma Museum of Art)|
|Admission||Adults: 1,000 yen; High school and college students: 450 yen; Elementary and junior high school students: free|
|Others||The Homma Residence requires a separate admission fee.
Please see the website for details.