Thailand-Japan Relations

History of the Thai Residence

          Following the signing of the Declaration of Amity and Commerce between Siam and Japan, both countries began to send diplomatic missions to each other’s country. In 1899, the Legation of Siam was dispatched to Tokyo headed by Phraya Ritthirong Ronchet, Minister Plenipotentiary. He was the first Chief of the Thai Mission to Japan. In the early days, a room at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo was used as the Legation’s office. Over the course of time, Thailand’s mission, later promoted to the mission headed by Ambassador Plenipotentiary in 1941, was relocated to various places, such as Daimachi in Akasaka, Hikawacho in Akasaka (now in Minato), and Harajuku in Shibuya.
          In 1943, the Royal Thai Government purchased the “Hamaguchi mansion” from Mr. Mumon Hamaguchi, which has remained the Thai Residence until today. It is located in Kami-Osaki in Shinagawa Ward of Tokyo. The Asahi Shimbun newspaper, dated 5 May 1943, carried an article on the move of the Thai Mission from Komaba in Meguro Ward to the Hamaguchi mansion in Shinagawa.

          Mr.Mumon Hamaguchi,who was originally from one of the prestigious families in Wakayama Prefecture, and later known as Mr. Kichiemon Hamaguchi the 10th, constructed this mansion in 1932 as his private residence. Known for being a passionate art collector,the story has it that Mr. Hamaguchi built the mansion to display his remarkable art collections, ranging from paintings and sculptures, to various art objects from many countries. It was truly fortunate that when the Royal Thai Government bought this beautifully kept residence from Mr. Hamaguchi, it included many pieces of fine art. This is why today, guests to the Thai Residence can still appreciate splendid art works from all over the world.
Throughout history, the mansion has often served as an important stage for diplomacy and has witnessed various moments of historical importance. One of the notable events was the marriage of Mr. Hamaguchi’s niece, Hiro Saga, to Prince Aishinkakura Fuketsu (Pu Chieh), the younger brother of Aishinkakura Fugi (Pu Yi), the last Emperor of China. The couple was first introduced to each other in 1937 at this Hamaguchi mansion.
After the wedding, they briefly resided at the Hamaguchi mansion before moving to Manchuria. The presence of some Chinese artefacts at the Thai Residence is attributed to this story.
          In June 1990, during his visit to Japan, Aishinkakura Fuketsu stopped by at the Thai Residence, and was said to be pleased to see that it remained just as it was in the old days when he first met his wife, Hiro. This confirms that successive Thai Ambassadors have preserved the mansion in its original state and have taken meticulous care of this residence, which is a rare architectural jewel.

          Many prominent dignitaries have visited the Thai Residence over the decades. One especially auspicious occasion was when His Majesty the Late King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, the Queen Mother visited the Thai Residence during their state visit to Japan in 1963. Most recently, Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn graciously visited the Residence on 13 October 2010 on the occasion of the
ceremony to lay the foundation stone of the Embassy’s new chancery building. The Thai Residence is also very fortunate to have been graced by members of the Japanese Imperial Family. Most recently, on 4 April 2019, Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado graciously visited the Residence when Ambassador Bansarn Bunnag hosted a luncheon for the diplomatic community to promote Her Imperial Highness’ project of “Japan Through Diplomats’ Eyes” photo exhibition. During the time when Ambassador Bansarn served as Chairperson of the Executive Committee of this Project, Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado, who is Honorary President of the Project, graciously visited the Residence several times to attend meetings of the Committee. Also every year, on the auspicious occasion of His Majesty the King’s Birthday Anniversary, it is customary that the Thai Ambassador welcomes the Grand Master of the Ceremonies of the Imperial Household Agency at the Thai Residence when he/she delivers a message of felicitations from His Majesty the Emperor of Japan.

The Thai Residence will continue to serve as an important venue for diplomacy and the deepening of Japan–Thailand relations for years to come. It will certainly witness many more historical moments, events and stories that will add new chapters to the long and cherished history not only of the Residence itself but also of the development of Thailand–Japan relations. It is also hoped that the Thai Residence will continue to be an integral part of this Kami-Osaki community in Tokyo,where local residents and passersby can always enjoy the beauty and tranquility of this unique and historical architecture.

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