NIKKO’S BRITISH EMBASSY VILLA MEMORIAL PARK
During the summer vacation and Obon yasumi in Japan, my family had a chance to visit Nikko City in Tochigi Prefecture, Japan. While the city itself is world-renowned for its natural beauty, there are museums that are worth a visit. For people who are interested in history and foreign affairs, a visit to a foreign embassy memorial is an unforgettable experience. And one place I can recommend is the British Embassy Villa Memorial Park.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE VILLA
This museum is a former summer retreat of the British Embassy that was built in 1896. It has since been restored to preserve its original appearance. Exhibits from inside give visitors a glimpse of British culture. The villa is beautifully situated at the bank of Lake Chuzenji and the surrounding views are spectacular, especially from the second-floor veranda.
The Lake Chuzenji area was a popular summer resort area for embassies and wealthy foreigners in which they built their villas in the early 20th century. The building serves as the private villa of Ernest Satow who was a British diplomat and gave a major impact on the Meiji restoration, and it was restored to the image of the British Embassy villa which was used for many years.
FACILITIES INSIDE THE VILLA
As we entered along the entrance foyer, interesting bookshelves with flaglets of Britain and Japan are decorated along. Some of the bookshelves are adorned with vintage colorful chinas that are truly English in design. The exhibition rooms are brightly lit and are full of historical stories about Ernest Satow’s life and his fascination with Okunikko. Aside from that, the room features interesting fireplaces that are essential in heating up British homes in the past. Fireplaces were built in the dining room and study during the original construction. The metal fittings in the frame and ornaments on these fireplaces are original from the first construction. One of the main interesting places also on the ground floor is the veranda with sofas that give each visitor spectacular views of Lake Chuzenji.
SECOND FLOOR FACILITIES
The second floor features another exhibition room and Ernest Satow’s successful life during the Victorian period. It also introduces the “Arts and Crafts Movement” which aims to restore manual work and improvement of industrial design.
Next to the exhibition room is the British Cultural Communication Room which is known also as the “Tea Room Minami Yonban Classic”. They serve scones and tea sets as well.
The veranda on the second floor offers an even amazing view of Lake Chuzenji so don’t forget to hang out and enjoy the view.
The tour is usually short and affordable, giving you a glimpse of the past and British culture in Japan. The ticket costs 200 yen for adults (16 yrs old and above) and 100 yen for children (4 yrs-15 yrs. old). I must say visiting this museum is one of the best things to do while visiting Nikko.