• Sumitomo Kakkien

    Superlative fusion of elegant Western and dignified Japanese architecture with traditional motifs presented in a series of photographs.

The house on the hill, emerging from the landscape

Renowned Buddhist temple Ishiyamadera, Seta no Karahashi Bridge—one of the celebrated Eight Views of Omi, and the distant vista of Lake Biwa. Memorable views capturing Kakkien’s charm. Upon retirement from his position as the second Director-General of Sumitomo, Teigo Iba came to live here in 1904, spending the rest of his life in these idyllic surroundings—where the tranquil beauty of house, garden and landscape reflects the rhythm of the seasons—until he passed away in 1926. Over a century has passed since the completion of Kakkien, and though the neighborhood has experienced some development, Kakkien retains its timeless attributes, overlooking the Seta River and with Mount Garan in the distance.

Stylish half-timbered building

From the main gate, a gravel drive leads through woodland. Follow the drive up among the moss-decked cedars. You suddenly come upon a stylish Western-style residence facing you across an expanse of lawn. Iba’s visitors must have been enchanted by this memorable approach to his house. This Western-style residence was designed by Magoichi Noguchi, an architect employed by the House of Sumitomo, whose work includes Nakanoshima Library in Osaka. Half-timbering*1, a style popular in Northern Europe since the medieval period, Art Nouveau*2, and Japanese motifs are combined to create a house of dignity and charm.

  • A timber frame of pillars and beams is exposed on the exterior of the building and the intervening spaces are filled with mortar, bricks, etc. Popular in northern Europe since the medieval period.
  • An artistic style and movement that originated in Belgium and France around 1900 and subsequently spread throughout Europe. Characterized by extensive use of curvilinear patterns reminiscent of plant forms.

Sukiya-zukuri style using abundant high-quality timber

The Japanese-style building of Kakkien was constructed by Jinbee Yagi, Jr., a master carpenter known for his expertise in sukiya-zukuri architecture. Abundant high-quality timber is used, including hemlock presented to Iba as a farewell gift upon leaving the Besshi Copper Mines where he served as general manager. Exquisite carpentry reveals the attributes of this timber. In the garden overlooked by the reception room and the living room with a total area of 16 tatami, a Japanese maple extends its boughs, the centerpiece of a magnificent panorama that changes with the cycle of the seasons. Kakkien is one of a handful of late-Meiji villas designated important cultural properties in 2002. In addition to the buildings, both the garden and its vicinity are included in the designation as they are recognized as integral to the overall aesthetic effect.

Building data

Completed in 1904 (Extension of a room in 1922)
Magoichi Noguchi, Jinbee Yagi
Kanichi Iba, Takichi Takagi
Site area
Total floor area
10-14, Tanabecho, Otsu-shi, Shiga Prefecture
Designation as an important cultural property
Designated as a national important cultural property in 2002


Address: 10-14, Tanabecho, Otsu-shi, Shiga Prefecture


Opening hours
10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Closed days
Sundays, Mondays, and public holidays
Special opening at the year-end/New Year
Once a year (Requires applications in advance)