The Imanishi Residence Preservation Foundation

Imai-cho, Nara, Japan
The Imanishi Residence Preservation Foundation

歴史と出会う都市 かしはら
 It introduces "The Imanish Family Residence" and "Imai-cho".
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Imai-cho and Autonomy Imai-go and Shonenn-ji Temple The Imanishi Residence

Imai-cho and its Autonomy
 Imai was once the property of Kofuku-ji Temple(Source: Kofuku-ji Temple, Ichijo-in monastery documents, 1386). It quickly became Imai-cho, or Imai "Town," in the 1560's whne Kawai Gombei-Kiyonaga, an ancestor of the Imanishi family, came to the area with his vassals after the fall of the Ryuo-jo Castle. This castle belonged to the Toichi clan, to which the Kawai were related. The period coincides with the time when they fought in alliance with the Okko-shu Buddhist sect against the then most powerful man in Japan - Oda Nobunaga - digging moats and building thick white walls around the town as a means of self defense. Although they were later made to disarm by Oda Nobunaga, they retained the right of autonomy, and the town prospered together eith the neighboring town of Sakai with which it had a very close relationship. The town was referred to " Imai on the land," in contrast to " Sakai on the sea."
In the Tokugawa era, as society was settling down to a period of peace and tranquility, a high level of autonomy developed, and the Tokugawa Shogunate officeally recoganized Imai as a town and made it responsible for its own administrative and for the appointment of "sodoshiyori " and "machidoshiyori "administrative officeals, as were established in Edo ( present day Tokyo,) Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara. It was around 1600 when the system of sodoshiyori was estabilshed in Imai. Initially, Kawai Yojibei ( later renamed Imanishi ) was appointed as town administrator. Kawase Nyudo-Hyobubo ( later renamed Imai ), Ozaki Gembei, and Ueda Chuemon were appinted later.

Imai-go and Shonen-ji Temple
 Nagata Gyobu-daiyu-Takanaga was a member of the Omi-Genji clan. His grandson, a son of Kawase Taro-daiyu-Takamitsu, lost his parents at a very ealy age, renounce the world, and became a priest. However, he later gave up the priesthood, and called himself Kawase Shinzaemon-Ujigane. Having asked and received the backing of the Toichi clan and the Kawai clan in Yamato, he was tonsured and sent to Osaka. He was made a disciple of the priest Kennyo-Shonin Kosa of Ishiyama-Hongan-ji Temple. He again changed his name, this time to Kawase Nyudo-Hyobubo, and was made the chief peiest of Shonen-ji Temple, a traning hall newly built by the Imai family for the use of the Kawai clan.
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The Imanishi Family Residence Designated as an Important Cultural Property
For generations, the Imanish family served as the head of sodoshiyori's (town administrators). Three generations after Kawai Gombei-Kiyonaga moved to Imai in 1566, Matsudaira, a grandson of the then lord of Koriyama Castle, Tokugawa Ieyasu, recommended that they changed their name to Imanish, as their residence was situated at the West exit of Imai Town. In this way they have called themselves "Imanish" since 1621.
As described above, the residence of the Imanish family, which had judicial and police powers, is located at the West exit of Imai town, and there is a moat on its Western side.

The road in front the residence used to be the main street leading to Sakai. At the Western end of the West gate there used to be a guard's hut. The outer walls of the redidence were completely covered in white plaster. Below both side of the main roog are small parallel roofs. The roofing is of the hongawara-buki style, and presents a magnigicent castle-like appearance.

On the right front wall of the upper floor, is the Kawai clan crest: a Chinese
character for "kawa" meaning river enclosed by another I meaning a well.
On the left of the wall is the family flag emblem, three diamonds overlaying one

Inside the house on the Western side, there is a spacious " doma, " or earthen
floor. To the North side are large sliding doors opening to the outside. A "
shimomise " (front reception room) is situated in the North-western corner. In all
there are six rooms. The " mise-no-ma " (reception room), a " naka-no-ma " (central
room), and " daidokoro " ( kitchen) lead off from the " doma ." Behind these rooms
are a " mise-no-oku " (inner reception room), and a " nando " (closet), and a "
butsu-no-ma " ( room containing the family Buddhist altar). The absence of pillars in
the doma imparts a feeling of spaciousness. Overhead you can see the framework of the
roof, centrally supported by three large beams.

According to the writing on the " muna-fuda " constrction plaque, " The framework was raised on March 23, the 3rd year of Keian." From this, we can established that the structure was built in 1650. As such, this is the oldest private house in Imai. The " tsuno-zashiki " (corner guest room), in the South-eastern corner of the main building is also of the same period.

Imanishike Residence

Around the residence

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