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18th-century Tokyo teahouse burned during WWII opens to public

An "upper tier" of the restored Taka no Ochaya teahouse, designed as a resting place for shoguns, is seen in Tokyo's Chuo Ward, on April 19, 2018. (Mainichi)
The restored Taka no Ochaya teahouse is seen in Tokyo's Chuo Ward, on April 19, 2018. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- A teahouse here that was built around 1795 by the 11th shogun Tokugawa Ienari but destroyed in a World War II air raid has been rebuilt -- opening to the public on April 20.

    "Taka no Ochaya" (falcon teahouse) is located in Hamarikyu Gardens in Tokyo's Chuo Ward, a park recognized as a special place of scenic beauty and a special national historical site. The teahouse was used to welcome guests and as a place of rest for falconers, but was burned to the ground in bombing during the Pacific War.

    The teahouse is a single-story wooden structure, with a total floor space of 86 square meters. Unlike other teahouses in the park, Taka no Ochaya has a thatched roof and wide earth floor, making it resemble an old farmhouse. The upper tier, complete with tatami flooring, was used as a resting place for shoguns, and there is also a "falcon room" in the teahouse where falcons could be kept.

    The Tokyo Metropolitan Government started restoration of Taka no Ochaya around November 2016, spending 230 million yen in the process. It is the fourth of five teahouses in the park to have been restored, following "Nakajima no Ochaya" in fiscal 1983, "Matsu no Ochaya" in fiscal 2010, and "Tsubame no Ochaya" in fiscal 2015.

    Hamarikyu Gardens opens at 9 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m. Standard entry is 300 yen, while entry for senior citizens aged 65 or older is 150 yen. Admission for children of elementary school age or younger, as well as junior high school students residing or studying in Tokyo is free. For inquiries, call 03-3541-0200 (English-language guidance also available).

    (Japanese original by Kentaro Mori, City News Department)

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