The Kamakura Museum of Literature is housed in the beautiful former summer residence of Marquis Yoshinori Maeda. A winding drive leads up to the picturesque mansion, and there are gardens and lawns in front which allow you to get a good look at the entire structure. From the upper lawn and from the house itself one can also catch a view of the sea.
Although the mansion is no longer in its full glory, one can get an idea of the splendor it once possessed. The house was donated to the city of Kamakura in 1983 and was chosen as the location for the Kamakura Museum of Literature, perhaps because Maeda’s daughter Miiko, was herself an established writer of non-fiction books concerning the Japanese aristocracy.
Unfortunately, the museum itself is rather poorly set up, with most displays consisting of glass cases housing the original handwritten drafts of various writers. While interesting in terms of penmanship, there is little here to give much insight into the authors themselves. None of the exhibits provide English explanations, although a very meager photocopied one-page ‘brochure’ is given at the entrance. Visitors are also only allowed into a handful of the actual rooms in house, making it difficult to enjoy even as an architectural destination. Needless to say, photos are also not permitted inside the house, although a rather pricey book of photos of the rooms you are not allowed into is available at the gift shop.
Quite a shame, as this could be a very enjoyable stop for visiting foreigners if the presentation were improved. For travelers coming to Kamakura for just a day or two, it would be difficult to recommend this stop, as there are so many more splendid sights to see . We can only hope that the museum will one day give these literary greats the attention they deserve.
Entrance Fee: ¥300-¥400
Open: March-Sept. 9:00am – 4:30pm, Oct.-Feb. 9:00am – 4:00pm
Closed on Mondays. (also closed for New Year’s holidays)
Address: Hase 1-5-3 Map