Suginami ward in Tokyo has purchased the historic Tekigai Villa in Ogikubo 2 Chome for 3.1 billion Yen and plans to preserve the house and restore its gardens.
Tekigaiso was built in 1927 and designed by architect Ito Chuta. Ito was a leading architect in early 20th century Imperial Japan and had designed the original Meiji Jingu Shrine, the Okura Museum of Art near Hotel Okura in Akasaka, and the Tsukiji Hongan-ji Temple.
Prince Fumimaro Konoe (1891 – 1945) acquired the residence in 1937. Konoe served as Prime Minister on three separate occasions including the lead up to World War II. The home was used by Konoe to hold a number of important meetings in an attempt to avoid war with the US, including a meeting with Hideki Tojo in 1941. Konoe had refused to collaborate with a plan by Bonner Fellers to exonerate the Emperor and imperial family of war crimes. As a consequence, he came under suspicion of war crimes himself and in 1945, after being given a final warning to report to the Americans for criminal prosecution, he took potassium cyanide poison and committed suicide in his home. His son’s family lived in the home until 2012.
The heirs to the estate were considering demolishing the home and redeveloping the property into apartments. Local groups were opposed to the redevelopment plans and lobbied Suginami City to protect the historic landmark.
The wooden house has a total floor area of 433 sqm and is on a 6,150 sqm block of land. In February 2014, Suginami purchased the property from the heirs for 3.1 billion Yen. Future plans are still under discussion but there are considerations to have it listed as a national cultural property.
In October, work began on converting 2,300 sqm of the land into a park.
2-43 Ogikubo, Suginami-ku, Tokyo
Source: The Asahi Shimbun, December 2, 2014.
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