On the banks of the Agano River on the Kamabara Plain, the museum is a 40-minute bus ride from Niigata Station. This former estate was established in the Edo period by the Ito family, which, by the 1930s, was the largest landowner in the Kaetsu area, with 8,352 acres of paddy fields, 2,500 acres of forest, and 78 overseers who controlled no fewer than 2,800 tenants. The family also owned about 60 warehouses, which stored 1,800 tons of rice every autumn. Ito Mansion, built in 1887, was their home for generations until the Land Reform Act of 1946, which compelled landowners to sell off their paddy land holdings above 7.5 acres. Their mansion with its valuable art collection became this museum, which has two restaurants and coffee shops. The house has 65 rooms, a special art gallery, gardens, a tearoom, and an annex for study called "Sanrakutei" where everything—pillars, furniture, and even tatami mats—is triangular or diamond-shape.
The garden is laid out in the traditional style
of the Kamakura and Muromachi periods (14th–15th century). Its five teahouses are in different parts of the garden (two of them built later), and numerous natural rocks—mostly from Kyoto—are artistically arranged around the pond. At Niigata ask the Tourist Information office to point you in the direction of the right bus, which takes 40 minutes. A taxi takes 25 minutes.