100 Years Project

Welcome to the Nakano Residence – Museum of Art Foundation:

The Nakano Residence - Museum of Art Foundation was established by the Nakano family to display the beauty of an old Meiji Era residence and its surrounding gardens.  The Foundation also has on display the Nakano Family’s private art collection – which include a few pieces that have been regarded as National Treasures and Cultural Assets.

The Nakano Family residence is a wooden construction typical of Niigata buildings built in the Meiji Era.  The beautiful gardens surrounding the Nakano home are unusual with their numerous maple trees and unique landscaping.  This living work of art should in its own right be considered a cultural asset; always changing and growing with the different seasons.

On behalf of the Nakano Family, you are cordially invited to appreciate the history of this home and the beauty of their gardens.  I hope you too will take some time to enjoy this historic home, with its wide variety of cultural and natural beauty on display within and around the Nakano home.  And maybe even for a moment, you will lose sense of time and long for the good old days.

Nakano Residence - Museum of Art Foundation Director
Shigetaka Nakano

Nakano Residence - Museum of Art Description:


The Nakano Residence – Museum of Art Foundation was first built by Kan-ichiNakano and his eldest son, Chutaro Nakano.  Construction first started in 1900 and was completed in 1904.  It is here that the Nakano Family has on display its extensive art collection.  The museum’s mission is to not only show the beauty of art and architecture from days of old, but to also show future generations the role oil played in modernizing Japan as well as the Niitsu area. The museum stands as a cultural ambassador, promoting the culture of Niitsu City and Niigata Prefecture.

Maple Garden:
The garden, which surrounds the museum, was created in the Meiji Era and over the next 40 years was cultivated into what is on display today.  This hilly landscape covers more than 39,600 with more than 2,000 maple trees on the grounds and representing more than 130 varieties found in Japan.  The landscaping, trees, and gardening techniques used provide a sense of calm and serenity; a balance between man and nature; as well as a sense of ageless beauty.

To truly enjoy your experience at the Nakano Residence – Museum of Art Foundation, it is best to give yourself at least one hour. 

The Nakano family were a landowning family and served as chieftains within the region since the
middle of
the Edo era. Since those times, the family has been involved in the further development and enrichment of the local area.

Although he endured many hardships, througn his dedication and persistance, Kan-ichi Nakano earned a name for himself in Japan’s fledgling oil industry.  Kan-ichi Nakano spent the first twenty-nine years of his career searching for oil, but was not successful.  However in 1903, through perseverance, he finally struck oil.  After that initial discovery, Kan-ichi Nakano became a large-scale oil producer.  He then imported new mining technologies from the United States, which revolutionized the oil industry and greatly increased Japanese oil production.  His contributions earned him the nickname of “The Oil King of Japan”.
Kan-ichi Nakano
(1846-1928) – This photograph was taken
at age 80.

Chutaro Nakano was Kan-ichi’s eldest son and was born when Kan-ichi was only 16 years of age.  Chutaro Nakano was known as a collector of fine Japanese arts and it is his collection which now is on display at the Nakano Residence – Museum of Art Foundation.  As stated before, his art collection includes 12 works that are deemed National Treasures and an additional 30 works that are deemed important Cultural Assets.

Chutaro Nakano
(1862-1939) – This photograph was taken
at age 75.

Oil and Niitsu City:

In contemporary society, oil is considered a necessary energy and life source.  Today, most of the oil used by Japan is imported from other countries.  However, the history of oil in our country is long and interesting.  Oil from the Niitsu City area was first mentioned in the Nihon Shoki, a text that chronicles the beginnings of Japan and was written in 720 AD.  This historical text states, “The burning soil and the burning water were presented from the land of Echi in 668 AD.”  The reference to Echi refers to what is considered modern day Niitsu City and the surrounding area and the quote captures how rich the land was with oil.

Since then other historical documents have memorialized the role Niitsu City has played in Japan’s oil industry.  Niitsu was known worldwide as a quality oil-producing area. Accounts describe the Niitsu area as a forest of oil wells”, especially in the Kanazu district of the Niitsu City during the Meiji Era.  The Nakano Residence – Museum of Art Foundation hopes that it will help show you how oil production in the region changed the lives of people in this area, as well as show you how it changed one family in particular, the Nakano family.

Note: Niitsu City became part of the Akiha Ward of Niigata City in April 2007.


- From Yashiroda Station (JR Shinnetsu Line): It is approximately 3 minutes by taxi or 15 minutes by foot.
- Niitsu Station (JR Shinetsu Line): It is approximately 15 minutes by taxi.
- Niitsu Interchange (
Banetsu Route): It is approximately 20 minutes by car.
- Sanjotsubame Interchange (
Hokuriku Route): It is approximately 30 minutes by car. 

Contact Information:

Address: 598 Kanazu, Akiha-ku, Niigata-shi, Niigata 956-0845
Phone / Fax: 0250-25-1000 

Website: http://www.nakanotei-muse.com – Japanese Version
http://www.nakanotei-muse.com/top_english.html - English Version