Satsuma Edo mansion

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The Shimazu clan lords of Satsuma han maintained five mansions in Edo. These were homes for the lords' wives, heirs, other family members, and numerous retainers, as well as housing the lord himself roughly half of the time, whenever he was in attendance in Edo in accordance with his sankin kôtai obligations. To maintain five mansions in the city was exceptional; most smaller domains maintained only one or two. The domain also maintained mansions in Kyoto, Fushimi, and Osaka.

Shiba Mansion

A stone marker at the former site of the Shiba mansion, inscribed with calligraphy by Saigô Kichinosuke, a grandson of Saigô Takamori
  • Japanese: 薩摩藩上屋敷 (Satsuma han kami yashiki)
  • Other Names: 芝邸 (Shiba tei)

The domain's kami yashiki, or "upper mansion," was located in Shiba 3-chôme, on a site now home to the Celestine Hotel and NEC headquarters, just south of Zôjô-ji and Shiba Park along Hibiya-dôri. Previously the shimo-yashiki ("lower mansion"), the Shiba mansion became the kami-yashiki at some point after 1710,[1] with the Sakurada mansion being lowered from kami-yashiki to naka-yashiki ("middle mansion").[2]

Ryukyuan missions to Edo were generally lodged at the Shiba mansion during their time in the city. When processing up to Edo castle for formal audiences with the shogun, they typically departed the Shiba mansion before dawn, and made their way to the Sakurada mansion before continuing to the castle.[3] Both the Shiba and Sakurada mansions saw numerous banquets, formal audiences, and performances of Ryukyuan music and dance during the missions' time in the city, which usually lasted around one month.[4]

The Shiba mansion burned down in 1748, and again in the early 1760s, but was rebuilt.[5] Atsuhime later lived there for over a year, beginning in 1853/10. The mansion was severely damaged in the Ansei Earthquake of 1855/10.

Sakurada Mansion

  • Japanese: 薩摩藩中屋敷 (Satsuma han naka yashiki)
  • Other Names: 桜田邸 (Sakurada tei), 装束屋敷 (shouzoku yashiki)

The domain's Sakurada naka-yashiki ("middle mansion") was located in Uchi-saiwai-chô 1-chôme, just east of Hibiya Park. The site is today the location of the Yamato Seimei Building. Previously the kami-yashiki, it was at some point changed to the naka-yashiki, with the Shiba mansion becoming the kami-yashiki.

The Sakurada mansion burned down numerous times over the course of the period, as was standard in the city. Two of these occasions were on 1615/9/21, when the Chôshû domain mansion burned down, and the Shimazu Sakurada mansion caught fire and was lost as well, and on 1621/1/23, when it burned down again.[6]

The Sakurada mansion was also known as the shôzoku yashiki (lit. "costume mansion"), as it was there that the members of Ryukyuan missions changed costume on their way to and from formal audiences at Edo castle.

In 1883, the former site of this mansion became the site of the Rokumeikan, the premier Western-style venue for elite social events in Meiji period Tokyo.[7]

Takanawa Mansion

The Shinagawa GOOS hotel/shopping complex today on the former site of the Shimazu Takanawa mansion
  • Japanese: 薩摩藩下屋敷高輪別邸 (Satsuma han shimo yashiki Takanawa bettei)

The domain's Takanawa shimo-yashiki ("lower mansion") was located in Takanawa 3-chôme. Today, the site, just in front of the JR Shinagawa Station, is the location of the Shinagawa GOOS shopping/hotel complex.

At some point after his 1787 retirement, Shimazu Shigehide made the Takanawa mansion his chief residence in Edo. It was there on 1832/int.11/26 that celebrations were held, in honor of his 88th birthday; the celebrations continued the following day at his grandson Shimazu Narioki's mansion in Shirogane.[8] Ryukyuan envoys were in attendance on both days, and particularly excellent Ryukyuan musicians and dancers were dispatched from Ryûkyû to join the embassy to Edo that year, specifically for the purpose of performing at these birthday celebrations.[9]

The Takanawa mansion compound also included the Shûchin treasure house (聚珍宝物庫), established by Shigehide to house his immense collection of plant and animal specimens. In an inscription on an associated stele, Shigehide wrote of his great desire to collect rare plants and other natural products from all over Japan and overseas, in order to better investigate and understand the truths of nature. He writes that he established this treasure house so that a hundred years hence, they might still be preserved.[10]

Shibuya Mansion

  • Japanese: 薩摩藩下屋敷渋谷別邸 (Satsuma han shimo yashiki Shibuya bettei)

The domain's Shibuya shimo-yashiki was located within the yamanote area of the city, in what is today Shibuya-ku Higashi 1-chôme, the site of the Shibuya Folk and Literary Shirane Memorial Museum.[11]

The Shibuya mansion suffered no severe damage in the 1855 Ansei Earthquake, and so the ladies associated with the domain, including Atsuhime, relocated from the destroyed Shiba mansion to the Shibuya mansion at that time. It was from this mansion that Atsuhime made her formal wedding procession to Edo castle in 1856/11, to be married to Shogun Tokugawa Iesada the following month.

Satsuma han Kurayashiki

The monument on the former site of the kurayashiki at Tamachi
  • Japanese: 薩摩藩蔵屋敷 (Satsuma han kurayashiki)

The domain's kura yashiki, or storehouse, was located along the canals in Shiba 5-chôme, a short distance from the Shiba kami-yashiki. This storehouse is also sometimes referred to as the Shimazu family's Mita mansion. The site is today the location of the Daiichi Tamachi Building.

The Shôheimaru, a Western-style sailing ship built in Kagoshima, sat at anchor for a time in 1855 just off-shore from this kura-yashiki.[12]

This mansion was also the site of a significant meeting between Saigô Takamori and Katsu Kaishû, at which Katsu presented the Tokugawa shogunate's formal capitulation to Saigô, thus halting Saigô's plans to take Edo castle by force. A monument to Saigô's and Katsu's success in making the fall of Edo relatively bloodless stands today on the site.


  • Gallery labels, Museum of the Meiji Restoration, Kagoshima.
  1. Yokoyama Manabu 横山学, Ryûkyû koku shisetsu torai no kenkyû 琉球国使節渡来の研究, Tokyo: Yoshikawa kôbunkan (1987), 78.
  2. Miyagi Eishô 宮城栄昌, Ryûkyû shisha no Edo nobori 琉球使者の江戸上り, Tokyo: Daiichi Shobô (1982), 103.
  3. Gallery labels, "The Kingdom Under the Overlordship of the Satsuma Domain," Okinawa Prefectural Museum, Naha.
  4. Edo nobori – Ryūkyū shisetsu no Edo sanpu 江戸上り~琉球使節の江戸参府, Naha: Okinawa Prefectural Board of Education (2001), 57.
  5. Watanabe Zen'emon 渡辺善右衛門, "Nyûrai Ryûkyû ki" 入来琉球記, 1748, Hirayama Toshijirô 平山敏治郎 (transcription), Minzoku gaku kenkyûsho kiyô 民俗学研究所紀要 3 (1978/12), 113.; Miyagi, 199.
  6. Yokoyama, 48.
  7. Takatsu Takashi 高津孝, "Machi aruki Ryûkyûjin gyôretsu to Edo no machi" 「街歩き 琉球人行列と江戸の町」. Nihon kinsei seikatsu ehiki: Ryûkyûjin gyôretsu to Edo hen 日本近世生活絵引:琉球人行列と江戸編、Research Center for Nonwritten Cultural Materials, Institute for the Study of Japanese Folk Culture, Kanagawa University 神奈川大学日本常民文化研究所非文字資料研究センター (2020), 204.
  8. This would appear to be yet another Satsuma mansion in the city, beyond those listed here.
  9. Miyagi, 159.
  10. Plaque at Kagoshima castle.[1]
  11. 白根記念渋谷区郷土博物館
  12. Ishin Shiryô Kôyô 維新史料綱要, vol 2 (1937), 79.