OutlineThe Maeda Family and the History of Seisonkaku
The Seisonkaku is a villa replete with Edo Period (1603-1868) arts and crafts that the Maeda family commissioned to have made.
In the Sengoku Warring States Period (1467-1603), the samurai Toshiie Maeda was rewarded the Kaga domain (present-day Ishikawa prefecture) for his service to Nobunaga Oda in Owari domain. Toshiie took as his wife a woman of great intelligence named Matsu. Later he arranged for their eldest son Toshinaga to marry Nobunaga Oda's daughter.
However, after the Honnō-ji Incident of 1582, when Nobunaga was forced to commit suicide, many powerful daimyō (feudal lords) lost their long-standing influence and disappeared.
From this group of daimyō, the Maeda family managed to retain their exceptional standing and wealth (1.2 million koku of rice per year). The third Maeda lord, Toshitsune, devoted much of his family’s wealth to the development of arts and crafts in Kaga domain.
Subsequently, a series of strategic marriages to noble families helped stabilize the political situation. In the Maeda family castle, craftsmen’s workshops were built and maintained until the end of the Edo period.
Originally, the workshops’ main undertaking was to repair and service weaponry. However, because this was now a politically stable period, the domain witnessed a proliferation of arts and crafts. Especially in the era of the fifth Maeda lord, which was a time of law and order, Kaga arts and crafts reached their height of glory.
The 12th Maeda daimyo, Narinaga, had Takezawa Goten, a retirement villa, built in Kenrokuen Garden. All the domain’s craftsmen applied their collective skills to produce magnificent furnishings and decorations.
In 1863, the 13th Maeda lord, Nariyasu, had Tatsumi Goten villa built for his mother, Takako (later called Shinryuin), so she could enjoy views of Kenrokuen. He also demolished his father's retirement villa, Takezawa Goten, in his effort to improve Kenrokuen, which he developed into a strolling garden with a central pond.
After the Edo Period drew to a close, Takako lived out her final years at Tatsumi Goten. Following Takako’s death, the villa was used for welcoming the Japanese emperor and princess. In 1938 it was designated an Important National Cultural Property, and in 1950 it was declared a National Treasure.
Following Takako’s death, the villa was used for welcoming the Japanese emperor and princess. In 1938 it was designated an Important National Cultural Property, and in 1950 it was declared a National Treasure.
Currently, Seisonkaku is an incorporated foundation responsible for the custody and management of the buildings, gardens, arts and crafts, and other materials owned by the Maeda family. It also plans and holds exhibitions.