Yamaguchishi City Saikotei

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  2. Yamaguchishi City Saikotei

Yamaguchi City Saikotei is a facility that opened in October, 2004 as a sightseeing base in Yamaguchi with many historical artifacts, it is also a place for citizen exchange.
The building was originally a luxurious traditional Japanese restaurant named Gion Saikotei which operated from around 1878 to 1996. It was later relocated and refurbished. It is a precious building which tells the history of Early Modern Period of Japan.
Many calligraphy writings are displayed here, including those written by celebrities and Prime ministers who held parties at the restaurant.

Main displays

  • Calligraphy Writings (written by Politicians who had visited Saikotei)
    Writers: Hirobumi Ito, Aritomo Yamagata, Taro Katsura, Giichi Tanaka, Nobusuke Kishi, Eisaku Sato, Kakuei Tanaka, Shinzo Abe(They were Japanese Prime ministers) and Sanetomi Sanjo, Takayoshi Kido, Kaoru Inoue, Yosuke Matsuoka
  • Vessels and artwork that were used in the restaurant are also displayed.
Official Name Yamaguchi City Saikôtei, Museum and Reception Hall
Address 1-2-7 Tenge Yamaguchi City, Yamaguchi, 〒753-0091 JAPAN
TEL 083-934-3312
Opening Hours 9am-5pm
Admission Fees
  • Adult (ages 16 and above): ¥100
  • Children (ages 6 to 15) : ¥50
  • Younger than 6 : free

Facilities:Two wheelchairs for the hall and handicap toilets

Conditions of entry

  • No smoking-Saikotei is a smoke-free environment.
  • No pets or dangerous objects allowed in the building.
  • Tuesdays(When a national holiday is Tuesday, they are a following weekday)
  • New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day (Dec.29th-Jan.3rd)
Website https://saikoutei.jp
Ground area 2,979m2
The floor area
  • 1F 751m2
  • 2F 241m2
Structure a two-storied wooden building
  • 7 Bus parking spots
  • 105 car spots

Public transportation access

  • By Rail / Yamaguchi Station (a bus or taxi)
  • By taxi/ About 2 km from Yamaguchi Station
  • By Community bus/ Noda bus stop (on foot 3 minutes)
  • By City bus/ Noda Gakuen Mae bus stop (on foot 2 minutes)
  • By Car / about 7 km from Yamaguchi interchange(Route 262 to a No. 9 line, next to the Nanaoyama tunnel)


“Ryotei” is the general name for a luxurious traditional Japanese restaurant, where guests dine on Japanese cuisine. Ryotei is often used for business negotiations, banquets, or receptions.

Also, it is a place where guests can enjoy a myriad of Japanese cultural experiences, such a Saikotei was the most luxurious Ryotei in Yamaguchi, so key government officials, such as the Prime Ministers, always visited Saikotei when they came to Yamaguchi.
Saikotei was opened around 1878 by Kobe Saito who had been the lords’ cook until 1871.
During its 126 years of history, many people visited it until they closed in 1996.
In 2004, it reopened as a museum & reception hall for Yamaguchi City.
The location was in the premises of Yasaka Shrine before relocation. However, the site had turned out to be the place with the state guesthouse of the feudal lord stood about 500 years ago. Therefore, Saikotei was relocated to allow for the excavation.
Eastern traditional culture has “Kigo.” It means writing words or phrases with brushes. Celebrities or Calligraphers are commissioned to write words or proverbs.
Most Ryotei have 1 or 2 of these writings.
There were the 29 of these writings at Ryotei Saikotei. It had the most “Kigo” of any place in all of Japan.You can see the banners still to this day.
The following are those who wrote these “Kigo.” Sanetomi Sanjo, a court noble who ranked second only to the Meiji Emperor.Takayoshi Kido ended the samurai era in Japan.Kaoru Inoue was the CEO of the greatest financial conglomerate Mitsui.Hirobumi Ito, the first Prime Minister of Japan.Aritomo Yamagata, the Prime Minister who built the Japanese army.Taro Katsura, the Prime Minister at the time of the Russo-Japanese war.Yosuke Matsuoka, the diplomat who made the League of Nations withdrawal speech.Eisaku Sato, the Prime Minister who won the Nobel Peace Prize.Kakuei Tanaka, the Prime Minister who achieved the normalization of diplomatic ties between Japan and China.Ichiroku Iwaya, the calligrapher who was the teacher of the Meiji Emporer.
In addition, Yoshisuke Aikawa the founder of the Nissan concern, left a hanging scroll of calligraphy, and Hekigoto Kawahigashi, a haiku poet, left his works. Also, global philosopher, Kitaro Nishida, visited here although he did not write any calligraphy.
Wajima-nuri and Arita-yaki are two traditional types of Japanese containers. Many of them are still left over from the Ryotei period. There are 11,070 Arita vessels of 364 separate varieties, and there are 1,661 Wajima-nuri lacquer vessels of 75 varieties. Some vessels can be seen in the exhibition room now.
The room that was decorated with the hanging scrolls has 33 writings and 53 traditional Japanese paintings.There are 15 folding screens. You can see some of them in the exhibition room.
The building is made from wood.The wood materials used are from a high-class tree called the Zelkova tree, and pine wood.From 1888 to 1925, a building was extended frequently until it became the size that it is today.
The garden is a reproduction of the original garden that was created in 1925. It is a Japanese style garden. The large stones and lanterns were used from ancient times, and the lake was purposely left without water to create a dry landscape.

Explanation of the main calligraphy


三条実美( Sanetomi Sanjo/1837-1891) was a court noble. Afterwards, he assumed the position of provisional Prime Minister.
His writing means: Anything can be joyful according to feelings.


木戸孝允(Takayoshi Kido/1833-1877)was the leader of Japan as a modern nation.
His writing means: Pure like water, balanced like a scale.


井上馨(Kaoru Inoue /1835-1915)was the first Foreign Minister of Japan. He strongly influenced the financial world.
His writing means: Coming to Saikotei refreshes both body and mind.

「菜香亭 借用齊幸之語音而与亭名」井上馨

This writing tells how the Ryotei got its name as “Saikotei.”
It was written by Kaoru Inoue who named this Ryotei “Saikotei”


伊藤博文(Hirofumi Ito /1841-1909)took office as the first Prime Minister of Japan in 1886, at the age of 45. He extended his service for four more terms after that. He frequently visited Saikotei for speeches and parties and other political gatherings.
His writing means: When hearts are united, peace grows forth.


山県有朋(Aritomo Yamagata /1838-1922)was the General who completed the Japanese army. He was the Prime Minister from 1889 to 1891, and 1898 to 1900.
His writing means: The view is good and relaxes the heart.


寺内正毅(Masatake Terauchi /1852-1919)and his son were both Generals of the Army. He was also the Prime Minister from 1916 to 1918.
His writing means: Let us begin to spread societal gains and work to better this world.


田中義一(Giichi Tanaka /1864~1929)was the Commander in Chief of the Army. After that, he became the Prime Minister from 1927 to 1929.
His writing means: I will not lose my feeling of righteousness to anyone.


岸信介(Nobusuke Kishi /1896~1987)was the Prime Minister from 1957 to 1960.
His writing means: One should compose one’s heart and consider things quietly.


佐藤栄作(Eisaku Sato/1901~1975) was the Prime Minister from 1964 to 1972 and Nobel Peace Prize winner.
His writing is from a Zen proverb meaning: That I exist here and now is the most amazing thing.


田中角栄(Kakuei Tanaka /1918~1993) was the Prime Minister from 1972 to 1974. He achieved the normalization of diplomatic relations of Japan and China.
His writing means: The breeze is warm and gentle.


竹下登(Noboru Takeshita /1924~2000)was the Prime Minister from 1987 to 1989. He introduced consumption tax into Japan.
His writing means “Going my way”.


安倍晋三(Shinzo Abe /1954~2022)grandfather was Nobusuke Kishi and his grand-uncle was Eisaku Sato. He was the Prime Minister from 2006 to 2007.
His writing means: Although my heart is calm and quiet, it will not be moved by anything. My convictions will not be bent.

「鶴駕入鴻城 皇恩潤二州」桂太郎

桂太郎(Taro Katsura /1848~1913)took the office as the Prime Minister 3 times. He served for over 7 years, it was the longest term that anyone had ever served as Prime Minister. His writing means: When the Emperor came to Yamaguchi, his kindness benefited the Prefecture.

Visitor Information

Concession shop
(Souvenirs and gifts are sold.)



  • Yamaguchi Saikotei Pictorial Record ¥1,100
  • Key holder ¥300~500
  • Japanese style place mat ¥500~2,000
  • Postcards ¥110

Powdered green tea service (Matcha)

Powdered green tea is the traditional drink from medieval times in Japan.
You can enjoy the green tea with Japanese sweets in the Hall.
Reservation are required at least a day in advance.
  • Price: ¥500
  • Time: 10.00a.m. – 4.00p.m.

Bicycle Rental

Please use for exploring the nearby sights.
Bicycles can be rented from 9am to 5pm.

Charge: Bicycle

  • ¥300/under 4hrs
  • ¥500/over 4hrs

Battery-Assisted Bicycle

  • ¥400/under 4hrs
  • ¥600/over 4hrs

Kimono Fitting (Reservation required)

Click here for details

Rickshaw (Reservation required)

Some form of the rickshaw has been in every part of the world since ancient times. The present form of the rickshaw was developed in Japan in 1870. It was used almost everywhere until the invention of the automobile. Now, it can only be seen at tourist attractions.
Yamaguchi Saikotei also has rickshaws that can be ridden by reservation.
The course circles around Yamaguchi Saikotei. It runs past Yasaka Shrine, Ryufukuji Temple, Jippoutei, old Japanese style house.


  • 15 minutes ¥2,100 : one person / ¥3,150 : two persons
  • 30 minutes ¥4,200 : one person / ¥6,300 : two persons
  • 60 minutes ¥7,350 : one person / ¥10,500 : two persons

Reservations: Please call Saikotei: 083-934-3312

Nearby Attractions (Free Facilities)

UnkokuAn Ruins (hermitage)

  • 3 minutes walk from Saikotei
  • Japan’s greatest artist, Sesshu – the creator of Sesshu-tei- had his art studio here. The studio was rebuilt in 1884 using old wood from ancient shrines and temples.

Noda shrine & Toyosaka Shrine

  • 2 minutes walk from Saikotei
  • The shrines dedicated to the late Motonari Mori and Takachika Mori. They were great ancestors of the Mori family who had been the lords of Yamaguchi prefecture during Japan’s early modern period. These shrines were built on the spiritual power spots of the city in 1872.

Imahachimangu (Shrine)

  • 3 minutes walk from Saikotei
  • This shrine dedicated to the spirit of indigenous deities. The wooden building was built about 500 years ago. Imahachimangu is designated as an Important Cultural Property of Japan.

Yasaka shrine

  • 3 minutes walk from Saikotei
  • The shrine dedicated to Susano no Mikoto; a god in Japanese mythology. The building painted in red was built about 500 years ago. This shrine is designated as an Important Cultural Property of Japan.

The Yamaguchi Furusato Heritage Center

  • 7 minutes walk from Saikotei
  • This Japanese-style building was a Sake(Nihonshu) merchant’s house named Nomura. It was built in 1886. They produced Sake and sold it here. This house tells us about what the merchant life was like at the time.

Ichinosakagawa (River)

  • 10 minutes walk from Saikotei
  • This river runs through Yamaguchi City. You can see cherry blossoms by the river in spring, and fireflies fly around in summer. In the 1970s, construction was done to preserve the environment of the banks of this river, first of its kind in Japan. River habitat for fireflies became easier because of this construction.

Ruins of the Lord Ouchi’s Mansion

  • 12 minutes walk from Saikotei
  • The site had Lord Ouchi’s Mansion from the Middle Ages. The Ouchi family traded with China and Korea, and had strong influence in the western part of Japan. Once, Francis Xavier visited here. The garden has been restored to the medieval style.

Ryufukuji (Temple))

  • 12 minutes walk from Saikotei
  • This temple was built to mourn the last heir of the Ouchi family, Yoshitaka Ouchi. The main hall of the temple is about 500 years old, and it is designated as an Important Cultural Property of Japan.

Jippotei (Historical Residence)

  • 15 minutes walk from Saikotei
  • This building was built around 1800. It was the mansion of a merchant. Many historical persons have stayed over night and held meetings here since the castle town was relocated from Hagi to Yamaguchi city in 1863.