Remodeled From Japan’s Oldest Wooden Courthouse: The Sasayama City Ritsurekishi Art Museum

The Renovation of Japan’s Oldest Wooden Courthouse

The Sasayama City Ritsurekishi Art Museum is housed in what was, until 1981, Japan’s oldest wooden courthouse still in use. In 1982, this building became recognized as a registered Cultural Asset of the city.

The museum opened in 1982. Although the building was renovated slightly to make it more suitable as an art museum, they kept the original simplicity of the courthouse design, and the profundity of the building itself still remains to this day. There is still a courtroom left intact in the museum where you can feel the weight of history as well.

Incidentally, you can take part in a mock trial in front of a Meiji era (1868-1912) judge in this courtroom while wearing period costumes as well; photography is of course permitted during this experience.

Learn About the History and Culture of Sasayama

Items on display include artefacts excavated from Sasayama city’s Kumobekurumazuka Kofun (historical grave mound) and Miwayama Kofungun (grave mound group), two Cultural Properties, among others. Here you can see the Kanshikikyo, a bronze mirror, as well as the Kagamiita, a part of a harness, and many other daily life items that make up their collection on the Kofun period of Japanese history (250-538 CE).

During the excavations at the Sanbontougekitagama Kiln ruins, precious items dating back to the Kamakura period (1185-1333 CE) were discovered, showing the some 800 year old roots of Tamba-yaki ceramics. Although the kiln was shut down in 1869, the history of porcelains called Oujiyama-yaki and their antecedents, Furuichi-yaki, which were only produced for a short period, as well as the history of Edo era (1603-1868 CE) pottery can also be studied here.

Works showing other famous Japanese castles and places of the same time period, such as the “”Tokaido, Nakasendo, Koshukaido Painted Screen””, finely detailed works showing people and landscapes, like the “”The Tale of Genji Picture Scroll Suma-Akashi””, armor from the Daimyo of Sasayama and the Aoyama family, and many other items are also on display here. When visiting the Tamba-Sasayama area, please do not forget to come and see this incredibly rare artefacts.


Place: Sasayama City Ritsurekishi Art Museum
Address: Sasayama, Gofukumachi 53
Access: From Sasayamaguchi Station on the JR Fukuchiyama line, take the Shinki Green Bus bound for the Sasayama Eigyosho and get off at the Kasuga Jinja-mae stop, then walk for 1 minute.
Admission: Adults 300 yen, high school/university students 200 yen, elementary/junior high students 100 yen (for groups of 30+ adults 250 yen, hs/u 150 yen, e/jhs 50 yen) *Special exhibitions incur an extra charge.
Closed: Mondays (open if a national holiday and closed on Tuesday instead), Dec. 25th-Jan. 1st