In 1743, the Sugimoto family established an independent kimono fabric sales company at Karasuma Shijo-sagaru, under the style of “NARAYA.” Two decades later, in 1767, they moved to the present location. The Sugimoto family prospered in Kyoto and eventually opened branches in Kanto distributing Kyoto style kimono fabrics.
The present main house is a restored version of the one destroyed in the Genji Period (1864) conflagration. An inscription above the front door commemorates the raising of the new timber framework on April 23, 1870. The owner at that time was the sixth generation merchant, Shinzaemon-Tamekata. The master carpenters were HISHIYA, Risaburou and OUMIYA, Gorouemon.
The main building is built in the omoteya-zukuri style. Thus, the front store building, facing the main street, is connected to the rear living space by a secondary, interior private entrance hall. The front exterior of the house has Kyoto-style lattice-work (kyo-koushi), including a bay window shielded by wooden slats (degoushi), a large wooden door (odo) and a dog fence (inuyarai). The fine plaster latticed townhouse window (tsuchinuri no mushikomado) provides ventilation to small floor storehouses (zushinikai). All of these features are typical of traditional Kyoto merchant houses (kyo-machiya). The Sugimoto Residence is one of the largest of these merchant houses currently remaining. The tatami-mat room has an alcove for decorative and ceremonial objects (tokonoma), and beside the alcove a shelf (tana). The family altar room housing the ancestral shrine (butsuma) is in a wing with its own distinct identity, within the house but projecting from it to the west. The traditional kitchen (in Kyoto dialect, called a “daidoko”) is large and open. All of these features are very distinctive. The house is well preserved and is the largest surviving merchant house in Shimogyo ward. It has three storehouses: main, corner and center storehouses (oogura, sumigura, nakagura) respectively. When looked at together, they form an inverted L-shape ensemble. They are said to have remained standing, unburnt, after the Genji Period conflagration; however, their original foundation dates are unknown.
It is worth noting that every year the ornamental trappings of the Hakuga Yama processional float are displayed in the house during the Gion Festival season.
On February 20, 1990, the residence was designated as a Tangible Cultural Asset by Kyoto City, and on June 29, 2010, it was designated as a National Important Cultural Property. Additionally, on February 7, 2011, its garden was designated as a National Site of Scenic Beauty.