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Thursday, 30th June 2016
In General Japan News,

Renovated Meiji era villa reopens to the public

Visitors to Tochigi Prefecture will be able to step inside a stunning villa built in the Meiji era when it reopens to the public from tomorrow (July 1st).

The two-storey building was constructed by a British diplomat in 1896 and will now become an attraction to transport tourists back to this period, reports the Japan Times.

British diplomat and Japanologist Ernest Satow had his villa built in the summer resort of Oku-Nikko near Lake Chuzenji and started something of a trend.

A number of other diplomats followed suit and constructed their summer residences in the area, as well as the embassies of various countries.

This led to it becoming common knowledge that the foreign ministry moved to Nikko in the summer, where the climate was more temperate than other parts of Japan.

After leaving the country, Satow’s house became property of the British Embassy until in 2008 it was donated to the Tochigi Prefectural Government.

In 2010 renovations began and a total of 419 million yen (£3 million) has been spent on the 467 square metre villa.

Tim Hitchens, the current British ambassador to Japan, attended the ceremony to mark the end of the villa’s renovations.

He said he hoped it would become a long-lasting symbol of the friendship that Japan and Britain continues to share.

Features on display include the original brick fire place, which can be found on the first floor, as well as a collection on furniture from Satow’s time.

There is a café on the second to serve drinks and snacks to visitors. Entry costs 200 yen for adults and 100 yen for children.

Satow’s contribution to the region went further than just the building of his fine house, as he turned his passion for Nikkow into its first ever guidebook written in English.