Had the privilege to visit Japan’s official State Guest House, also known as Akasaka Palace, for a free tour over the weekend. Visitors are normally not allowed inside the premises but the Japanese Government is planning to throw open the doors to the public sometime in April. So, as a trial run, I was one of the lucky few who were chosen by lottery to see not only the Palace but the Japanese Style Annex that has been open to the public for the first time ever. Apart from accommodating dignitaries the State Guest House is the venue for welcome ceremonies, meetings, receptions, international conferences, official dinners & traditional functions for monarchs, presidents, prime ministers, leading figures in the political, business and academic circles.
Akasaka Palace was designed by Katayama Tokuma and built in the Meiji era in 1909, as the official residence of the crown prince. The main building is the only Neo-Baroque style western building in Japan. It was officially recognized as a national treasure of Japan in 2009. The rooms are ornately decorated with huge ceiling paintings, plaques, tapestries, marble pillars, gold inlaid fireplaces, etc. all done by renowned artisans & artists of the Meiji era. According to Japanese standards this may all seem to be a bit too lavish & garish, that is why I guess they built the Japanese Style Annex in 1974 with the purpose of highlighting the authentic essence of Japanese culture. The pictures above show the four main rooms ~
Sairan-no-Ma is used as a lounge for ushered guests prior to a banquet. Signing of treaties, agreements & media interviews are also held here.
Kacho-no-Ma is used for official banquets hosted by state & official guests. It has a seating capacity of 130
Asahi-no-Ma is used as a salon, holding audiences & important meetings for state & official guests.
Hagoromo-no-Ma is mainly used for welcome ceremonies in case of unfavorable weather, as well as for receptions & conferences. When as official banquet is held at the Kacho-no-Ma, beverages are served to guests in this room before and after dinner.
The above blurry pictures depict the Japanese Style Annex which is in stark contrast to the European style of the main building. This truly depicts the beauty, harmony & tranquility of the Japanese house & garden in a genuine Japanese setting. All furniture, fixtures, lights, flooring, ceiling, etc. incorporate the highest craftsmanship & materials one can obtain in Japan. The Japanese Style Annex comprises mainly of three rooms ~ the Main Banquet Hall, the Traditional Tea Room & the Kitchen-counter room where sushi & tempura are served.
(Since photography was prohibited inside the Main Building & Japanese Annex , I had to take these pictures off from the brochures provided by the State Guest House – Geihinkan, hence I am to blame for the blurry images)
If you are interested in more historic details check out this Wikipedia link ~ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akasaka_Palace