The Imanishi Family Residence Important Cultural Property/Imaicho, Kashihara-shi, Nara Japan

Diorama model in Imaicho
Diorama model in Imai Town West side moat

[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 when Kawai Gombei-Kiyonaga, an ancestor of the Imanishi family, came to the area with Tochi Tokatsu and 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 Ikko-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 with 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 tranquillity, a high level of autonomy developed, and the Tokugawa Shogunate officially recognized Imai as a town and made it responsible for its own administration and for the appointment of "sodoshiyori " and "machidoshiyori "administrative officials, as were established in Edo ( present day Tokyo,) Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara. It was around 1621 when the system of sodoshiyori was established 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 appointed later.


[Imai-go and Syonen-ji Temp]

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 early age, renounced 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 priest of Shonen-ji Temple, a training hall newly built by the Imai family for the use of the Kawai clan.


West side exterior
West side exterior

[The Imanishi Family Residence Designated as an Important Cultural Property]
(including "muna-fuda"construction plaque)

For generations, the Imanishi family served as the head of sodoshiyori's (town administrators). 
Kawai  Gombei-Kiyonaga(Retrofitting Imanishi Masafuyu) protected the western exit in Imaicho from Toyotomi momentum at a war of Osaka summer camp , Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu recommended that they change their name to Imanishi by reward of a war. And Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu presented a Japanese halberd"Rai Kunitoshi" of reward to him. In this way they have called themselves "Imanishi" since 1621.

As described above, the residence of the Imanishi 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 residence were completely covered in white plaster. Below both sides of the main roof are small parallel roofs. The roofing is of the hongawara-buki style, and presents a magnificent castle-like appearance.

On the right front wall of the upper floor, is the Kawai family crest: a Japanese 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 another.


Ground floor plan
Ground Floor Plan

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 " (Courthouse and 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.


Upper Floor Plan
Upper Floor Plan

This building was reconstructed by Imanishi Masamori to use as a courthouse.
According to the writing on the " muna-fuda " construction plaque, " The framework was raised on March 23, the 3rd year of Keian." From this, we can establish 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.



The Imanishi of Tochiagatanushi clan Preservation Foundation


phone: +81-744-25-3388

Web site:



[ Days of Opening ]


10:00 to 17:00 (entry until 16:30), advance reservations required


Mondays(On the holiday the next day off)


400 yen,300 yen(Discount for more than 10 people)

[ Contact us at the email address ]