the secret atelier
A story spun by facts with
a sprinkle of imagination
In the fall of 2021, we met another property that made us want to seek the truth. Being working in the field of real estate and architecture, I sometimes come across surprisingly intriguing properties, and it is even more so in the historical city of Kyoto. When you unravel how it existed there and what kind of people were involved in it, in fact, truths come up more interesting than in any of the novels.
The moment I saw the floor plan of this house at first sight, I was attracted to the mysterious room on the right side. I heard from Mr. K, who introduced me to this property, that it was actually a house where a famous artist lived. I couldn't help but keep thinking about the secret story behind this building. No, not only that but I instinctively thought that it ought to be a great story. To confirm this, I decided to invite the seller to reveal a detailed story.
-Jodoji, Sakyo Ward-
On a sunny weekend when the mountains began to turn red and yellow, our car was heading east on Marutamachi St. With the magnificent mountain range of Mt. Hiei in the background, you will be finally in the Sakyo Ward after crossing the flowing Kamo River. Even so, I think Sakyo Ward is a particularly interesting area in the city. In the old days of Heian Era, it was regarded as a place of entertainment for aristocrats; and since Kyoto Imperial University was established around the Meiji era of civilization, university faculty and students settled in, leaving traces of education and culture here and there. It is interesting to see old Machiya townhouses, Western-style buildings, cultural apartments, and even churches mixed in the district.
As you go down Marutamachi St., the mountains of Higashiyama gradually approach and a residential area that stretches toward the east ridges across Shirakawa St. comes to your sight. The narrow roads and alleys, and the waterways that branch off from the diversion channels parallel to the famous cherry blossom spot, the Philosopher's Path, run intricately like capillaries. The residential area, which has been gradually developed and expanded since the early Showa period, is a world that is a bit different from the so-called "Goban (checkers)" in the Rakuchu area. We parked our car at the coin parking lot and walked while looking at the mountains leading to Mt. Hiei. The house was in an alley just down the slope from a slightly intricate road on a gentle slope.
-The house where art is born-
Beyond the boarding fence, you can see the glossy reddish-brown roof tiles. A wooden gate with seasoned brick gate pillars still standing between the wooden fences, facing a slightly mossy stone alley. Although it has been there over the years, it has been carefully inherited. After passing through the gate, you will see a bay window with a delicate lattice. The walls are finished with scrape-off mortar, and the windows and entrance door remain with a wooden frame with checkered glasses. Unlike the Kyomachiya in the town, the main building built in the 10th year of the Taisho era is a modern architecture that combines the modernity of the Taisho era with the nostalgic atmosphere of the Showa era. At the same time, I was curious about the square box-like building standing on the east side of the main building. We stepped into the front door of the main building, being prompted by Mr. K's voice, "Please come inside" with his hair pulled behind him.
The seller and his wife, who bowed deeply with a smile, welcomed us. Nice to meet you. We exchanged greetings with each other with a sense of tension.
- I heard that the person who originally lived here is a famous craftsman...
- That's true, a Japanese lacquer artist named Shogo Banura. He was a leading figure in the world of Japanese lacquer until the Showa era. I'm Shogo's grandson.
- Do you also work on lacquer art pieces...?
- Yes. I am also a lacquer craftsman. Many of Shogo's children and grandchildren, including myself, are on the path to crafts. Probably since I was closely watching my grandfather who was active on the front line.
- I see. Before I came here, I tried to search for your grandfather's name on the internet, and certainly, the details came out immediately.
- I have been carrying out creative activities here since I was 20. I've seen my grandfather's work up close, but after all, there were many people in the craft world coming and going. My uncle was also working here. Even after my grandfather died in 1982, I and my wife continued to work in the atelier while living with my grandmother.
- The atelier is that square building, isn't it? I was very interested in that mysterious atmosphere.
- That's right. It's connected to the next room, and I will show you later.
Mr. Shogo Banura has been a judge of the Japan Fine Arts Exhibition for many years, as well as having received the honorary award of the Paris World Exposition. He is a person who was active in the lacquer art world and the craft world, and here is the atelier that Shogo worked on his artpieces. I can strongly feel that the efforts and thoughts of Shogo has been succeeded by his children and grandchildren. Yes, it is the house where art is born.
-The truth of the closed registry-
- I heard that this building was originally related to Mr. Kansetsu Hashimoto...
- That's right. I heard from my grandfather that the landlord was close to Mr. Kansetsu.
- We were surprised when we heard that from Mr. K. No way you can hear the name of a master of Japanese painting. In fact, I was also surprised that the former owner who remained in the closed registry was a blood relative of Mr. Kansetsu Hashimoto.
- The building was probably built by Mr. Kansetsu as a rented house, and my grandfather bought it later.
- Oh really? The Hashimoto family may have had some rented houses in this area.
- It's an old story, but I remember that there were other Japanese and Western painters who lived in this neighborhood.
- Perhaps Mr. Kansetsu Hashimoto was trying to create something like an art village...?!
- I don't know if it's true haha, but maybe that's the case.
It is possible that literary figures such as artists and scholars who sought the belief in the mountains and temples and shrines lined up at the foot of the mountain, as well as the newly passed landscape of diversion channels, settled in this area.
Anyway, it turned out that this building was one of the buildings built by Kansetsu Hashimoto in the Taisho era.
-The truth of the atelier-
- Let's get to the atelier.
The atelier was built as if it is connected to the main building. Moreover, it has a steel frame which is completely different from the wooden structured main building.
- I'm overwhelmed! This large open space...!
- Yes, my grandfather has been working in this atelier for a long time. In fact, in the 40's of the Showa era, he finished the lacquer mural painting "Ten Disciples of Shakyamuni", which is displayed at the Gokurakumon-gate of Shitennoji Temple in Osaka. Actually, it seems that the mural was made at the request of Mr. Konosuke Matsushita, the industrialist who founded Panasonic.
- Seriously?!! The name of a great person came out again ...!
After a little research, it's easy to found that Mr. Konosuke Matsushita was enthusiastic about contributing to temples and shrines that were destroyed and abandoned during the Pacific War and the historic movement of "abolition of Buddha" in the Meiji era. In this atelier, Shogo Banura was working on the lacquer mural requested by Konosuke Matsushita!
- That's right. Around 1968, my grandfather received a request from Mr. Konosuke Matsushita for making a lacquer mural painting of the Gokurakumon-gate of Shitennoji Temple in this atelier. There is another interesting story here. Actually, when my grandfather was being requested by Konosuke Matsushita for making that huge mural of 3m x 4m, he also asked for an atelier as a place for working on it. Perhaps this was really built by Matsushita Electric Works, the later Panasonic Electric Works, at that time.
I never thought that such a story would pop out, and we who were there were just overwhelmed in front of the atelier. In fact, on the outer wall of the atelier, there are traces of filling at a height of about 4m above the entrance door. In other words, there is no doubt that it was an opening for carrying out a painting with that height. The truth would have been buried if we didn't listen to the seller. Such a unique fact should not be hidden in anyway.
That's why real estate and architecture are interesting.
-Plan from our imagination-
There were only episodes that reminded us that it was our mission to weave the history of this building. If an old building is destroyed, the same cannot be built again under the current Building Standards Law. It is a once-in-a-lifetime encounter. We cherished this encounter and fantasized about how we could meet people who would use this house and create their own stories from now on.
A plan for artists as an integrated residence and work atelier
I've decided a plan for artists to work on their creative activities while living, just as Mr. Shogo Banura did. It is assumed that activities in the main building and the atelier will be separated, which the main building will serve one's daily life or entertain guests, and the atelier will devote itself to creative activities; an integration of work and residence in a single property. How about some inspiration from the moon above the rooftop of the atelier...? It will be a house where art and ideas are born, just as those writers and artists once liked to live in this place.
A house with workspace and residence opened in the city
Remove the wall that covers the entire site and use it as a gallery or cafe that is open to the city, but also a residence at the same time. Even inside the house, the flow-lines of the main house and the atelier is separated, which ensures private time away from work.
An inviting salon
Dining where you can spend your day in chill, and a living room where guests can be entertained and relaxed. The image of this plan is like a salon where you can chat while looking out at the garden with the prestigious tatami room as the living room.
Atelier that encourages creativity
For this plan, I'd like to utilize the dynamic atelier space with a high ceiling as a place of creation like its former master. You can also use it as a gallery to present your work. How about holding art classes such as painting and ceramics to discover some new talents?
Roof terrace in a loving moonlit night
A roof terrace over the atelier, which is connected to the main building by a bridge. While overlooking the Higashiyama ridges which extends to Mt. Hiei, this is a place that heals and allows a breather between work or creative activities. Decorated with a resort-style interior, this is also a perfect venue for home parties where you can entertain guests under the starry sky.
1. The illustrations and photos shown are for illustrative purposes only. The above plans are examples of renovation.
2. This property is NOT sold under renovated conditions.
3. Please contact us for introductions of architects, designers and renovation contractors.
-Current floor plan / Photos-
main building + front garden / back yard + atelier
The atelier is constructed adjacent to the main building that was built in 1918. The front and back gardens are rich in trees and various types of plants such as plums, camellias, sasanqua, azaleas, and evergreen magnolia. Since it is close to the mountains, small birds may visit the garden trees. The tree called "Southern Yellow" planted in the front yard grows bright citrus fruits every year at the beginning of winter. The second floor is sunny, and the Japanese-style rooms that are lined from north to south are especially comfortable. Definitely recommend as a bedroom.
※Click thumnails to enlarge photos
One of the best tourist attractions in Kyoto, with famous spots like the famous cherry blossom spot "Philosopher's Path" (about 3 min. walk/180m from the property) and the World Heritage Ginkakuji Temple (about 9 min. walk/650m from the property). The area is surrounded by fashionable cafes, patissiers, restaurants, exquisite bookstores and art galleries. From the property, you can access the city center such as Kyoto Station and the Shijo-Kawaramachi area with a single bus.
Drag/Swipe the screen, or click the arrows on the screen to tour.
|Property Price||78,800,000 JPY (Approx. USD *1JPY= USD)|
|Type & Conditions||Used House (One of 2 terraced houses)|
|Location||73-5 Jodoji-Shimominamidacho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto|
|Transportation||Approx. 3 min. walk from Kyoto City Bus "Minamidacho Stop"|
|Approx. 5 min. walk from Kyoto Bus "Jodoji Stop"|
|Private Street Area Included||N/A|
|Floor Area||【Registered】1F: 98.84sqm, 2F: 37.35sqm, Total: 136.19sqm
【Subsidiary Building】Storage / Structure: Tile roofed single storey wooden house / 3.96sqm
（Main building）1F: 96.51sqm, 2F: 34.89sqm, Total: 131.40sqm
（Atelier）1F: 36.83sqm, 2F: 12.71sqm, Total: 49.54sqm
(approx. number) ※Including unregistered area
|Building Structure||（Main building）Two Storey Wooden House
|Building Date||Unspecifiable (The earliest record in the closed registry is 1921)|
|Size||8 Rooms + Kitchen + Garden + Atelier|
|Adjoining Street||Street Width: 2.55m～3.14m(2nd Clause Road), Frontage: 4.7m, Direction: East
Street Width: 1.84m(NOT a road in law), Frontage: 12.48m, Direction: South
|Public Utility||Electricity, Water Plumbing In/Out, City Gas|
|Land Use District||Category 1 Low-Rise Exclusive Residential District|
|Legal Restrictions||10m / Height Control District, Piedmont Aesthetic District,Close View Preservation Zone, Prior Consultation Zone, Distant View Preservation Zone, Outdoor Advertisement Category 2 Regulatory District, Residence Attraction Area, Built-up Urban District, The minimum size of the land area is regulated as 100sqm when divided, Article 22 of the Building Standard Act|
|Building Coverage Ratio||50%|
|Floor Area Ratio||80%|
|Land Category||Residential Land|
|City Planning Act||Urbanization Promotion Area|
|Elementary School||Daisan-Kinrin Elementary School (approx. 7 min. walk/500m)|
|Junior High School||Okazaki Junior High School (approx. 13 min. walk/1km)|
|Notification According to National Land Utilization Law||Not Required|
|Remarks||※This property has obtained Kyotatemono Carte.|
|※Approx. 6.29sqm setback is required when rebuilding on this land.|
|※Furniture shown in photos is not included in the property price.|
|※Renovation work is required due to it's aged deterioration.|
|※Current status of the property will be prioritized in the case of any difference from the photos and floor plan shown.|
|※This property is not available for guest house and inn.|
|※Property will be handed over as is.|
|Transaction Terms||Hachise as a Seller (No agent commission required)|
|Sales Representative||Aya Kito / Boa Zhang / Kae Motokado (EN)|
|Tatsuya Ochiumi (JP)|
|Information Updated||May 23, 2022|
|Information will be Updated||May 30, 2022|