List of National Treasures of Japan (residences)

List of National Treasures of Japan (residences)

A man seated on a raised floor in front of a group of men who are sitting on a lower floor and bowing slightly. The walls are decorated with paintings of trees.
Tokugawa Yoshinobu announcing the restoration of imperial rule in the Kuroshoin of the Ninomaru Palace

The term "National Treasure" has been used in Japan to denote cultural properties since 1897.[1] The definition and the criteria have changed since the inception of the term. These residential structures adhere to the current definition, and were designated National Treasures when the Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties was implemented on June 9, 1951. The items are selected by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology based on their "especially high historical or artistic value".[2][3] This list presents 14[nb 1] entries of residential structures from 15th-century feudal Muromachi period to the early modern 17th-century Edo period. The structures listed include teahouses, shoin, guest or reception halls and other rooms which are part of Japanese domestic architecture. While most of the structures are located in temples, one is a castle.[3] In 2009, the early 20th century Akasaka Palace was designated as National Treasure in the category of "modern residences" (Meiji period and later). Because it is the only National Treasure in this category, it is listed together with the 14 pre-Meiji period structures.[4]

The foundations for the design of today's traditional Japanese residential houses with tatami floors were established in the late Muromachi period and refined during the ensuing Momoyama period.[5][6] Shoin-zukuri, a new architectural style influenced by zen Buddhism, developed during that time from the shinden-zukuri of earlier Heian period palaces and the subsequent residential style favored by the warrior class during the Kamakura period.[5][7][8] The term shoin (書院), meaning study or drawing room, has been used to denote reception rooms in residences of the military elite as well as study rooms at monasteries.[5][9] A shoin has a core area surrounded by aisles, with smaller areas separated by fusuma sliding doors, or shōji partitions constructed of paper on a wooden frame or wooden equivalents, mairado (舞良戸) and sugido (杉戸).[7] A main reception room is characterized by specific features: a recessed alcove (tokonoma); staggered shelves; built-in desks; and ornate sliding doors.[5][7] Generally the reception room is covered with wall-to-wall tatami, has square beveled pillars, a coved and/or coffered ceiling, and wooden shutters protecting the area from rain (雨戸 amado).[5][7] The entrance hall (genkan) emerged as an element of residential architecture during the Momoyama period.[7] The oldest extant shoin style building is the Tōgu-dō at Ginkaku-ji from 1485. Other representative examples of early shoin style, also called shuden, include two guest halls at Mii-dera.[10] In the early Edo period, shoin-zukuri reached its peak and spread beyond the residences of the military elite.[6] The more formal shoin-style of this period is apparent in the characteristics of Ninomaru Palace at Nijō Castle as well as the shoin at Nishi Hongan-ji [6][11]

The simpler style used in the architecture of tea houses for the tea ceremony developed in parallel with shoin-zukuri. In the 16th century Sen no Rikyū established dedicated "grass hut" (草庵 sōan) style teahouses characterized by their small size of typically two to eight mat, the use of natural materials, and rustic appearance.[12] This teahouse style, exemplified by the Joan and Taian teahouses, was influenced by Japanese farmhouse style and the shoin style[13] featuring tatami matted floors, recessed alcoves (tokonoma) and one or more ante chambers for preparations.[13]

By the beginning of the Edo period, the features of the shoin and the teahouse styles began to be blended.[14] The result was an informal version of the shoin style, called sukiya-zukuri (数寄屋造).[15][16] Sukiya-zukuri has the characteristic decorative alcove and shelf, and utilizes woods such as cedar, pine, hemlock, bamboo, and cypress, often with rough surfaces including the bark.[16] Compared to shoin style, roof eaves in the sukiya style bend downward.[15] While the shoin style was suitable for ceremonial architecture, it became too imposing for residential buildings. Consequently the less formal sukiya style was used for the mansions of the aristocracy and samurai after the beginning of the Edo period.[16][17] Examples of sukiya style architecture are found at the Katsura Imperial Villa and the Black Study Hall of Nishi Hongan-ji.


In total there are 15[nb 1] structures at ten compounds in five cities.[nb 2] Ten of these structures are located in Kyoto. The compound with most National Treasures of the residential building category is Nishi Hongan-ji, with three structures.[18]

National treasures are found in four cities in west central Honshū.
Map showing the location of residential National Treasures in Japan

Prefecture City National Treasures
Aichi Inuyama 1
Kyoto Kyoto 10[nb 1]
Ōyamazaki 1
Shiga Ōtsu 2
Tokyo Tokyo 1[nb 2]
Compound National Treasures
Ninomaru Palace (Nijō Castle) 1[nb 1]
Nishi Hongan-ji 3
Ginkaku-ji 2
Mii-dera 2
Sanbō-in 2
Ryōkō-in (Daitoku-ji) 1
Myōki-an 1
Tō-ji 1
Urakuen 1
Akasaka Palace 1[nb 2]
Period[nb 3] National Treasures
Muromachi period 2
Momoyama period 7
Edo period 5[nb 1]
Meiji period 1[nb 2]


The table's columns (except for Remarks and Image) are sortable pressing the arrows symbols. The following gives an overview of what is included in the table and how the sorting works.

  • Name: name of the structure as registered in the Database of National Cultural Properties[3][nb 1]
  • Compound: name of the compound in which the structure is located
  • Remarks: architecture and general remarks including:
  • size measured in meters or ken (distance between pillars); "m × n" denotes the length (m) and width (n) of the structure, each measured in ken
  • architectural style (zukuri) and type of roofing
  • Date: period and year of the construction; The column entries sort by year. If only a period is known, they sort by the start year of that period.
  • Location: "town-name prefecture-name" and geo-coordinates of the structure; The column entries sort as "prefecture-name town-name".
  • Image: picture of the structure; If the image shows more than one structure, the respective structure is indicated by a blue rectangle.


Name Compound Remarks Date Location Image
Joan (如庵)[19] Urakuen (有楽苑) Japanese teahouse, single-storied, irimoya style [ex 1] with shake roof, chashitsu with 2.5 + 3/4 mat and a three mat mizuya, built by Oda Uraku, a disciple of Sen Rikyū early Edo period, ca. 1618 Aichi InuyamaInuyama, Aichi A small wooden hut with hip-and-gable roof and reddish walls.
Kangakuin Guest Hall (勧学院客殿 kangakuin kyakuden)[21] Mii-dera 7 × 7, irimoya style,[ex 1] tsumairi style entrance,[ex 2] nokikarahafu gable[ex 3] on the front;
chūmon (中門) gate: 1 × 1 ken, kirizuma style[ex 4]
Both structures are single-storied with shake shingles.
Momoyama period, 1600 Shiga OtsuŌtsu, Shiga
Kōjōin Guest Hall (光浄院客殿 kōjōin kyakuden)[24] Mii-dera 7 × 6, irimoya style,[ex 1] tsumairi style entrance,[ex 2] facade with a karahafu gable;[ex 5]
chūmon (中門) gate: 1 × 1, kirizuma style[ex 4]
Both structures are single-storied with shake shingles.
Momoyama period, 1601 Shiga OtsuŌtsu, Shiga
Kanchiin Guest Hall (観智院客殿 kanchiin kyakuden)[nb 4][25] Tō-ji 12.7 m × 13.7 m (42 ft × 45 ft), tsumairi style entrance,[ex 2] nokikarahafu gable[ex 3] on front;
chūmon (中門) gate: 1 × 1, kirizuma style[ex 4]
Both structures are single-storied and covered by copper sheeting.
Momoyama period, 1605 Kyoto KyotoKyoto, Kyoto A small internal garden surrounded by wooden buildings with verandass.
Main drawing room (表書院 omote shoin)[26][27] Sanbō-in Consists of lower, middle and upper rooms; The lower (gedan) room could be used as a Noh stage with the audience seated in the middle and upper rooms. Upper room 15 mat (alcove and shelves), 18 mat, antechamber 27 mat, entrance from all four sides, single-storied, irimoya style,[ex 1] spring pavilion (泉殿 izumidono) in kirizuma style,[ex 4] sangawarabuki [ex 6] tile roof, entrance porch on west side with a karahafu gable[ex 5] and covered with hinoki cypress bark; The veranda and detached room in the southwest show the adoption of shinden-zukuri. Momoyama period, 1598 Kyoto KyotoKyoto, Kyoto
Karamon (唐門)[26][27] Sanbō-in 3 × 2 gate with entrance through the central ken (6.27 m × 2.60 m (20.6 ft × 8.5 ft)) and karahafu gables;[ex 5] Also called Chokushimon (gate for imperial messengers), was entirely black-lacquered with four large chrysanthemum and paulownia motifs, covered with hinoki cypress bark Momoyama period Kyoto KyotoKyoto, Kyoto A small wooden roofed gate with chrysanthemum motifs and Chinese style gables on the side.
Silver Pavilion (銀閣 ginkaku)[29][30] Ginkaku-ji East and west: 8.2 m (27 ft), north: 7.0 m (23.0 ft), south: 5.9 m (19 ft), two-storied: first floor in shoin-zukuri style, second floor in Chinese temple style with a window with an ogee-type pointed top with a series of S-like curves on either side of the peak (katōmado) and a Chinese sliding door; Roof in hōgyō style[ex 7] with shake shingles, bronze phoenix on the roof facing east, building originally called Kannonden (観音殿) mid-Muromachi period, 1489 Kyoto KyotoKyoto, Kyoto A two-storied wooden building with white walls in the lower part, wooden walls in the upper part and a pyramid shaped roof.
Tōgu-dō (東求堂)[nb 4][32] Ginkaku-ji 6.9 m × 6.9 m (23 ft × 23 ft), single-storied, irimoya style,[ex 1] covered with hinoki cypress bark, Buddhist hall of Ashikaga Yoshimasa with two Buddhist altar rooms and two other rooms; oldest extant shoin-zukuri style building[29] late Muromachi period, 1485 Kyoto KyotoKyoto, Kyoto A single-storied wooden building with a hip-and-gable roof, white walls and wooden sliding doors.
Retainers' room (遠侍 tōzamurai) and Entrance Hall (車寄 kurumayose)[nb 1][33] Ninomaru Palace (Nijō Castle) Entrance Hall: 5 × 3, hinoki cypress bark roofing

Retainers' room: 8 × 8, hongawarabuki roofing[ex 8]
Both structures are single-storied, irimoya style.[ex 1]

early Edo period, 1602–1603 and 1625–1626 Kyoto KyotoKyoto, Kyoto Wooden building with a large hip-and-gable roof, white walls and wooden sliding doors.

A small wooden structure with a hip-and-gable roof, white walls and metal ornaments on the gable is located in front of a large building with hip-and-gable roof, white walls and chrysanthemum motifs on the gable.

Reception Room (式台 shikidai)[nb 1][33] Ninomaru Palace (Nijō Castle) Dimensions: 3 (front), 5 (back), 4 (right), 6 (left) ken, single-storied, irimoya style[ex 1] with hongawarabuki roofing[ex 8] early Edo period, 1602–1603 and 1625–1626 Kyoto KyotoKyoto, Kyoto Wooden building with a hip-and-gable roof, white walls and wooden sliding doors.
Great Hall (大広間 ōhiroma)[nb 1][33] Ninomaru Palace (Nijō Castle) Dimensions: 7 (front), 5 (back), 8 (right), 7 (left) ken, single-storied, irimoya style[ex 1] with hongawarabuki roofing[ex 8] early Edo period, 1602–1603 and 1625–1626 Kyoto KyotoKyoto, Kyoto Wooden building with a large hip-and-gable roof and white walls. The gable is decorated with a chrysanthemum symbol.
Japanese fern-palm chamber (蘇鉄之間 sotetsu-no-ma)[nb 1][33] Ninomaru Palace (Nijō Castle) Dimensions: 1 (front), 3 (back), 8 (right), 9 (left) ken, single-storied, irimoya style[ex 1] with hongawarabuki roofing,[ex 8] connecting the kuroshoin with the ōhiroma early Edo period, 1602–1603 and 1625–1626 Kyoto KyotoKyoto, Kyoto
Black study room (黒書院 kuroshoin)[nb 1][33] Ninomaru Palace (Nijō Castle) Dimensions: 7 (front), 8 (back), 6 (right), 8 (left) ken, single-storied, irimoya style[ex 1] with hongawarabuki roofing[ex 8] early Edo period, 1602–1603 and 1625–1626 Kyoto KyotoKyoto, Kyoto Wooden building with a large hip-and-gable roof and white walls.
White study room (白書院 shiroshoin)[nb 1][nb 5][33] Ninomaru Palace (Nijō Castle) 6 × 6, single-storied, irimoya style[ex 1] with hongawarabuki roofing[ex 8] early Edo period, 1602–1603 and 1625–1626 Kyoto KyotoKyoto, Kyoto Wooden building with a hip-and-gable roof and white walls.
Black study hall (黒書院 kuroshoin) and Denrō gallery (伝廊 denrō)[34][35] Nishi Honganji Black study hall: length 6 ken (front side), 7 ken (back side), width 4 ken (left side), 6 ken (right side), two-storied, yosemune style[ex 9] with shake shingles

Denrō gallery: 4 × 2, single-storied, ryōsage style [ex 10] with shake shingles

early Edo period, 1657 Kyoto KyotoKyoto, Kyoto
Shoin (書院): Meeting room (対面所 taimenjo) and White study room (白書院 shiroshoin)[34][38][39] Nishi Honganji 38.5 m × 29.5 m (126 ft × 97 ft), single-storied, irimoya style,[ex 1] tsumairi style entrance;[ex 2] "wet veranda",[ex 11] hongawarabuki roof[ex 8] early Edo period, 1618 Kyoto KyotoKyoto, Kyoto Tatami matted room with a large scale wall painting of a court scene.

Three tatami matted rooms separated by sliding doors decorated with bird and plant motifs.

Flying Cloud Pavilion (飛雲閣 hiunkaku)[34][42][43] Nishi Honganji South and north side: 25.8 m (85 ft), east side: 11.8 m (39 ft), west side: 12.5 m (41 ft), three-storied with shake shingles;

1st floor: shoin-zukuri, study room (招賢殿 shōkenden), room of eight scenes (八景之間 hakkei no ma), veranda and tea ceremony room (ikujaku (憶昔)); karahafu gable[ex 5] on one side and irimoya style[ex 1] roof on opposite side;
2nd floor: room of great poets (歌仙之間 kasen no ma) (with paintings of 36 great poets on the wooden doors and walls), mezzanine floor, lightly railed veranda; convex hip and gable roof with undulating bargeboards on three sides;
3rd floor: 8 mat, with ogee shaped windows; hōgyō style[ex 7] roof

Momoyama period, between 1573–1614 or 1624–1644 Kyoto KyotoKyoto, Kyoto A three-storied wooden building with decreasing floor size with increasing level. The lowest level has white walls, the upper two have wooden walls. There is a veranda on the second level.
Taian (待庵)[44][45][46] Myōkian (妙喜庵) 3 m × 3.3 m (9.8 ft × 10.8 ft), 2 mat chashitsu, 1 mat anteroom (次の間 tsugi-no-ma) with an itadatami (板畳) board,[nb 6] hearth cut into the host's mat; single-storied, kirizuma style[ex 1] with shake shingles, attached pent roof over hardpacked earthen floor above the entrance; oldest extant teahouse in Japan, designed by Sen Rikyū Momoyama period, Tenshō era Kyoto ŌyamazakiŌyamazaki, Kyoto
Shoin (書院)[47] Ryōkō-in (竜光院) (Daitoku-ji) 6 × 4, single-storied, yosemune style;[ex 9] four rooms with ten (with attached alcove), eight, six and 4.5 tatami mats, spacious veranda, with a 4.5 + 3/4 mat chashitsu called mittan-seki (密庵席); constructed by Kuroda Nagamasa early Edo period, chashitsu from Kan'ei era Kyoto KyotoKyoto, Kyoto
Former Crown Prince's Palace (旧東宮御所 kyūtōgūgosho)[nb 2][4] State Guesthouse Akasaka Palace ( 迎賓館赤坂離宮 geihinkan akasaka rikyū) Neo-Baroque style, designed by Katayama Tokuma, former residence of Crown Prince Haru-no-miya Yoshihito (明宮嘉仁), the later Emperor Taishō late Meiji period, 1909 Tokyo TokyoTokyo A large palace built of white stone in neo-baroque style. The facade is adorned with colons.



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l The National Treasure structures of Nijō Castle form a continuous structure (Ninomaru Palace) and are registered as a single National Treasure under one registration number. Only in the main treasure table of this article, the single entry is split in parts for readability.
  2. ^ a b c d e The Tokyo Akasaka Palace is the only structure in the category of "modern residences" (Meiji period and later). All other structures in this list are much older from the late 15th to early 17th century.
  3. ^ If a National Treasure was constructed during more than one period, only the oldest period is counted.
  4. ^ a b One munafuda (棟札) ridge tag with information on the building's construction is attached to the nomination.
  5. ^ An attached room and the connecting corridor between shiroshoin and kuroshoin are included in the nomination.
  6. ^ A board placed in the part of a room which can not be coverd by a standard-size tatami.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n (irimoya-zukuri, 入母屋造): a hip-and-gable roof combining a ridge and two gable pediments on the upper part with a hipped roof on all sides in the lower part of the roof[20]
  2. ^ a b c d (tsumairi, 妻入): entrance in one of the gable ends with the axis of the approach parallel to the ridge of the roof
  3. ^ a b (nokikarahafu, 軒唐破風): an undulating Karahafu gable at eave ends[22]
  4. ^ a b c d (kirizuma-zukuri, 切妻造): a gabled roof with equal lengths from the ridge to the eaves[23]
  5. ^ a b c d (karahafu, 唐破風): an undulating bargeboard flowing downwards from the top center with convex curves on each side that change to concave curves which either level off or turn upward at the ends[22]
  6. ^ (sangawarabuki, 桟瓦葺): a roof tile combining a broad concave tile with a semi-cylindrical convex tile into one tile. The tile is square undulating from concave to convex.[28]
  7. ^ a b (hōgyō-zukuri, 宝形造): a pyramid shaped roof over a square building[31]
  8. ^ a b c d e f g (hongawarabuki, 本瓦葺): a tile roof composed of flat broad concave tiles and semi-cylindrical convex tiles covering the seams of the former[41]
  9. ^ a b (yosemune-zukuri, 寄棟造): a hipped roof where the front and back are trapezoidal and the sides triangular in shape; in Japan generally used for buildings of less importance[36]
  10. ^ (ryōsage-zukuri, 両下造): a gable roof without gable pediments because other structures connect to it[37]
  11. ^ (nure-en, 濡縁): shallow veranda outside of the sliding storm doors which is open to the elements even if the eaves have a long overhang[40]


  1. ^ Coaldrake, William Howard (2002) [1996]. Architecture and authority in Japan. London, New York:  
  2. ^ "Cultural Properties for Future Generations" (PDF). Tokyo, Japan:  
  3. ^ a b c 国指定文化財 データベース. Database of National Cultural Properties (in Japanese).  
  4. ^ a b 国宝・重要文化財(建造物)の指定について [Designation of National Treasure and Important Cultural Property structure] (PDF) (in Japanese). Tokyo:  
  5. ^ a b c d e Young & Young 2007, p. 80
  6. ^ a b c Young & Young 2007, p. 81
  7. ^ a b c d e "shoinzukuri".  
  8. ^ Young & Young 2007, p. 79
  9. ^ "shoin".  
  10. ^ Nishi & Hozumi 1996, p. 76
  11. ^ Nishi & Hozumi 1996, p. 75
  12. ^ "souan".  
  13. ^ a b Young, Young & Yew 2004, p. 63
  14. ^ Young & Young 2007, p. 90
  15. ^ a b Young, Young & Yew 2004, p. 100
  16. ^ a b c "sukiyazukuri".  
  17. ^ Nishi & Hozumi 1996, p. 78
  18. ^ The Agency for Cultural Affairs (2008-11-01). 国指定文化財 データベース. Database of National Cultural Properties (in Japanese). Retrieved 2009-04-16. 
  19. ^ 名鉄犬山ホテル 有 楽苑/如庵 [Meitetsu Inuyama Hotel Urakuen/Joan] (in Japanese). Meitetsu Inuyama Hotel. Retrieved 2009-11-14. 
  20. ^ "irimoya-zukuri".  
  21. ^ 勧学院客殿 [Kangakuin Guest Hall] (in Japanese).  
  22. ^ a b "karahafu".  
  23. ^ "kirizuma-zukuri".  
  24. ^ 光浄院客殿 [Kōjōin Guest Hall] (in Japanese).  
  25. ^ 観智院客殿 [Kanchiin Guest Hall] (in Japanese).  
  26. ^ a b Daigoji Sanboin.  
  27. ^ a b "World Heritage Kyoto DAIGOJI Temple : Guide to Daigoji Complex Guide to Sanboin" (in Japanese).  
  28. ^ "sangawarabuki".  
  29. ^ a b Ginkakuji Temple (in Japanese/English).  
  30. ^ "The Silver Pavilion or Kannon Hall".  
  31. ^ "hougyou-zukuri".  
  32. ^ "Hall of the Eastern Quest".  
  33. ^ a b c d e f "元離宮二条城" [Nijō Castle].  
  34. ^ a b c 本願寺(西本願寺) [Hongan-ji (Nishi Hongan-ji)] (in Japanese).  
  35. ^ 黒書院 [Black study hall] (in Japanese).  
  36. ^ "yosemune-zukuri".  
  37. ^ "ryousage-zukuri".  
  38. ^ 対面所 [Meeting room] (in Japanese).  
  39. ^ 白書院 [White study room] (in Japanese).  
  40. ^ "nure-en".  
  41. ^ "hongawarabuki".  
  42. ^ 飛雲閣 [Flying Cloud Pavilion] (in Japanese).  
  43. ^ "hiunkaku".  
  44. ^ "Taian Teahouse". artofjpn. Retrieved 2009-11-08. 
  45. ^ 待庵-光 の 空 間 [Taian, room of light] (in Japanese). vivi planning. Retrieved 2009-11-08. 
  46. ^ 待庵 [Taian] (in Japanese). goo. Retrieved 2009-11-08. 
  47. ^ 龍光院書院 [Ryōkō-in Shoin] (in Japanese). Retrieved 2009-11-14. 


External links