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Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2001

City of Moriguchi turns back to historic roots

Newly opened Moriguchi Rekishikan museum provides tangible link with area's farming past

Staff writer

MORIGUCHI, Osaka Pref. -- Other than the odd rice paddy, the city of Moriguchi now has little evidence of its pre-1960s days as a farming area.

The Moriguchi Rekishikan, which dates back to the 18th century, opened earlier this summer to showcase the city's past.

However, the city, which has a population of over 150,000 and serves as a dormitory town for neighboring Osaka, has recently established a tangible link with its past.

The former residence of the prominent Nakanishi family, now called Moriguchi Rekishikan, has been been renovated and opened as a museum.

The building, which dates back to the 18th century, houses a collection of materials owned by the Nakanishi family and the city. And the earth-floor hall, tatami-mat room and tea room are available for various events and activities such as noh plays, exhibitions and lectures.

The family, whose ancestors are descendants of the Emperor Seiwa (858-876), settled in Moriguchi when its 13th head, Shigehisa, built the first family home in 1555.

The house was rebuilt in 1616 after being destroyed by fire and underwent another reconstruction in 1793.

It remained the family's place of residence until 1998, when its owner, the 30th head of the family, donated the house and the 3,246.51 sq. meters of land surrounding it to the city.

The city then spent two years and 358 million yen renovating the building. The work was completed in March and the museum was opened to the public on July 24.

The house, which has a total floor space of 779.21 sq. meters, comprises a main wing some 574.16 sq. meters in area along with smaller structures. The arrangement of rooms within the main wing is in the style typical of a village chief's residence, but its main entrance has a structure unique to that of a samurai warriors' house, making the building a rare historical asset.

The cooking hall, which has an earth floor and a high roof with huge girders, remains cool in summer, according to Shigeo Otobe, the museum's curator.

Moriguchi Rekishikan is a 20-minute walk from Owada Station on the Keihan Railway Line, or a five-minute walk from Keihan Okubo bus stop. It is open Tuesday through Sunday between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. The museum also opens on Mondays that coincide with a national holiday, in which case it will be closed on Tuesday. Admission is 200 yen for adults, 150 yen for high school and university students, and 100 yen for elementary and junior high school students. For more information, call the museum at (06) 6903-3601.

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