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A Mountain Villa for a Prince of Silent Cinema: Okochi Sanso

For a man of the stature of Okochi Denjiro, nothing was too fine. A star of period dramas through the 1920s to the late 1950s, Okochi was also a man of refined tastes, a true aesthete. Okochi Sanso, located in the hills of northwest Kyoto was one of the actor’s many homes. After the actor’s death in 1962, the villa was opened to the public. Visitors can stroll the handsome villa itself, the attendant buildings, as well as the spacious gardens.

  • Throughout his life, Okochi Denjiro acted in jidaigeki, the period films that are still immensely popular in Japan, and stepping onto the grounds of Okochi Sanso, located in a prime spot on the slopes of Mt. Ogura, one immediately has the sense of tumbling into bygone days.

    A Mountain Villa for a Prince of Silent Cinema: Okochi Sanso

    A Mountain Villa for a Prince of Silent Cinema: Okochi Sanso

    When the villa was constructed in the 1930s, the area would still have been fairly remote from the center of Kyoto; as the city has developed, the mountain villa is easily reached from Kyoto Station on the San In Line. Although the walk from Saga Arashiyama Station to Okochi Sanso will only take about twenty scenic minutes, there is the option of taking the Sagano Scenic Railway to Torokko Saga Station to Torokko Arashiyama Station for train buffs, a ride on the historic tram is not to be missed.

    A Mountain Villa for a Prince of Silent Cinema: Okochi Sanso

    A Mountain Villa for a Prince of Silent Cinema: Okochi Sanso

    Admission to the grounds is 1000 yen and grants guests entry to Daijokaku, the main house: Tekisuian, a tea house, Jibutsudo, a Buddhist shrine, as well as gardens and an open air museum that collects artifacts from the storied career of Okochi Denjiro. For those with an appreciation for Japanese architecture, the buildings on the grounds each tell a fascinating story, but even neophytes will be charmed by the elegance and simple beauty. The Jibutsudo in particular stands out, dating from an earlier time than the other buildings and having been transported from a rural village to sit at its present location.

    A Mountain Villa for a Prince of Silent Cinema: Okochi Sanso

    A Mountain Villa for a Prince of Silent Cinema: Okochi Sanso

    Okochi Denjiro’s Kyoto villa has commanding views of the surrounding countryside. One can easily imagine the aging aesthete retiring to the villa and enjoying the vistas while drinking bitter green tea. The view is particularly sublime in autumn, when the lush valleys and hills turn crimson.

    A Mountain Villa for a Prince of Silent Cinema: Okochi Sanso

    A Mountain Villa for a Prince of Silent Cinema: Okochi Sanso

    Generously included in the cost of entry, guests are offered a traditional Kyoto sweet and a cup of matcha. Depending on how one arrives at the villa, a detour can be made from nearby Tenryuji Temple through the bamboo groves of Arashiyama, and Okochi Sanso’s main teahouse enjoys views of the villa’s own dense bamboo grove.

    A Mountain Villa for a Prince of Silent Cinema: Okochi Sanso

    A Mountain Villa for a Prince of Silent Cinema: Okochi Sanso

    The villa was a labor of love for the actor and his retainers. Over decades, Okochi Denjiro transformed Okochi Sanso into the ultimate expression of his tastes and sensibilities. This is particularly apparent in the interior of the main house and teahouse.

    A Mountain Villa for a Prince of Silent Cinema: Okochi Sanso

    A Mountain Villa for a Prince of Silent Cinema: Okochi Sanso

    Like traditional gardens across Japan, the grounds of Okochi Sanso were conceived and cultivated to show their charms in all four seasons. Whether arriving in the mild Kyoto winter or the height of summer, the grounds of the villa are charming.

    Okochi Sanso Gardens
    Address
    Kyoto Kyoutoshi Ukyou-ku Sagaogurayama Tabuchi Yamachi 8
    Phone
    0758722233
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