KARATSU (Saga Pref.): The famous “golden tea room,” believed to have been built on the order of 16th-century Japanese feudal warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi, has been replicated and is now on display for free to the general public at a museum in the city of Karatsu, Saga Prefecture, southwestern Japan.
The Saga Prefectural Nagoya Castle Museum will start around May a paid program in which visitors can enjoy “matcha” green tea in the room. The museum will solicit participants in the program.
The ceiling, walls and other parts of the tea room are coated with a total of around 16,500 pieces of gold leaf about 11 centimeters square. The tea room has a floor space of about 4.8 square meters, with red wool fabric laid on the floor, and is equipped with red “shoji” screens made out of silk.
The room can be assembled and dismantled for transportation. The restoration cost around 36 million yen.
According to the Saga prefectural government, the original golden tea room is said to have been used in events such as a tea ceremony at the Kyoto Imperial Palace in 1586. During the invasions of Korea by Hideyoshi in the late 16th century, the room was transported to Nagoya Castle in Karatsu, and tea ceremonies were held for feudal lords, merchants and members of missions from abroad. The castle was used as a base for the invasions.
The prefectural government asked a cultural asset repair business to restore the tea room, based on a diary by Kamiya Sotan, a business tycoon at the time in what is now Fukuoka Prefecture, which borders Saga.
Visitors, including tourists, lined up to see the gorgeous tea room on March 27 this year, when its public display started.
A 38-year-old corporate employee from Sasebo, a city in Nagasaki Prefecture, which neighbors Saga, took part in a free tea ceremony held on the day to commemorate the start of the exhibition.
“Everything was golden,” she said. “I’m happy to be able” to share the experience that historical figures might have had.