Once upon a time, Lake Chuzenji in Tochigi Prefecture was a fashionable summer resort for foreign diplomats in Japan. In 1928, the Italian ambassador to Japan commissioned this lovely villa, which is now open to the public. I visited last month and have just published an article about it for Artscape Japan. Please check it out for history, loving detail and an explanation for how to get there — no easy feat.
The most striking feature is the ceiling done in ajiro-ori, a traditional wickerwork often seen in chashitsu (teahouses). Here it is in a kikkō (tortoise shell) pattern.
While there, I happened to stumble upon THE flower event of the season, the wild Japanese primrose (Primula japonica) in full, glorious bloom.
In Japanese, this flower is called kurinsō because it resembles a “kurin” 九輪, which is the top portion of a pagoda. This is a good reason to visit Nikko and Lake Chuzenji in mid-June. The other is that June is off season, fall being the peak tourist season. Avoid weekends, if at all possible, and take the train.