The Aizu Buke-yashiki (会津武家屋敷) are the reconstructed samurai mansions of the chief retainers of the Aizu-Matsudaira, the Saigō family. The Saigō had served the Matsudaira since the middle of the seventeenth century. The reconstructed manor is based on plans dating back to end of the eighteenth century and is illustrative of the retainer’s high social status. The mansions comprised 38 rooms and were not only home to the extended Saigō clan, but also to dozens of soldiers and servants.
In the Boshin War, when the pro-imperial forces of the Satsuma and Chōshū domains attacked Aizu, the women of the samurai committed collective suicide in order not to burden their fighting husbands, fathers, and relatives in battle. The reconstructed main hall depicts a scene of the women’s suicide, with Saigō Tanomo’s wife too weak to kill herself imploring a Tosa officer wearing a red wig headdress to set an end to her life, a request he graciously complies with even though he is an enemy.
The entire site consists of an area of 23,100 square meters and exhibits in addition to the samurai quarters a replica of the jinya (陣屋, the shogunal administrative office in the domain), an archery range where visitors can shoot four arrows at targets (for 200 JPY), a traditional tea house as well as a small shrine devoted to the Chinese monk Ganjin (鑑真, 688–763; Jianzhen 鑒真 in Chinese), who helped to spread Buddhism in Japan. It also offers a large souvenir shop with local handicraft and food, as well as all sorts of Byakkotai and Shinsengumi memorabilia, and a coffee shop.
You can easily reach the Aizu Buke-yashiki by Aizu City Bus (A11/17 or H24/30 station, “Aizu-bukeyashiki”). Please refer to our Aizuwakamatsu page for more information on transportation.
- Aizu Bukeyashiki (official website, in Japanese)