Yamashiro History

Yamashiro's original front entrance.
Yamashiro’s original front exterior.


– The name Yamashiro translates as “Mountain Palace” in Japanese

– In 1911, the Bernheimer brothers began construction of the hilltop mansion to house their priceless collection of Asian treasures

– Hundreds of craftsmen were brought from the Orient to recreate the replica of a palace located in the “Yamashiro” province mountains near Kyoto, Japan

– Yamashiro sits 250 feet above Hollywood Boulevard and was completed in 1914

Miniature Japanese village that used to reside on the Yamashiro property
Miniature Japanese village that used to reside on the Yamashiro property.

– 300 steps led up the hillside through landscaped Japanese gardens to the 10-room teak and cedar mansion, where carved rafters were lacquered in gold and tipped with bronze dragons

– An Inner Courtyard, with a garden in the center, was filled with sculpted plants, stone-hewn pools, and rare fish

– The Inner Courtyard provided light and air to the surrounding rooms, where the walls were covered with lustrous silks and antique tapestries

– Landscaping at Yamashiro cost $2 million & resulted in one of California’s foremost Japanese gardens

– Hillside terraces were filled with 30,000 varieties of plants and trees, waterfalls, goldfish, and a private zoo of exotic birds and monkeys

– Miniature bronze houseboats floated along a maze of tiny canals and through a miniature Japanese village

– Beside the Hollywood Hills Hotel pool is a 600-year-old pagoda from Japan

– The pool was once a lake that housed rare black Australian swans

The Bernheimer brothers are pictured on the far left and far right.
The Bernheimer brothers are pictured on the far left and far right.

– Most of the art collection – including the Buddhist and Satsuma art, rare jades, tapestries, and cloisonne chandeliers – was auctioned off from 1922-25 after one of the Bernheimer brothers died

– In the late 1920s, Yamashiro served as headquarters for the ultra-exclusive “400 Club” comprised of Hollywood’s motion picture industry elite during its Golden Age

– Rumor has it that during the Roaring Twenties, starving actresses were available at Yamashiro to hire for the evening

– During the Great Depression, tours of the Yamashiro gardens were offered for 25 cents

Original Yamashiro interior room.
Original Yamashiro interior room.

– Anti-Japanese sentiment spread rapidly in Hollywood and throughout the country. Post Pearl Harbor, Yamashiro was rumored to be a signal tower for the Japanese. Much of the landscaping and decorative elements were stripped by vandals

– Yamashiro’s distinctive Asian architecture was disguised. Beautiful carved woods were covered with paint and boards, and the estate became a boys’ military school

– At the end of WWII, a builder bought the hidden property and converted Yamashiro into 15 apartment units

An photo of the beginnings of Yamashiro's resurgence as a restaurant.
The beginnings of Yamashiro’s resurgence as a restaurant.

– In 1948, the estate, unrecognizable and in disrepair, was purchased by Thomas O. Glover, who intended to tear down the structure and develop a hotel and apartments on the 7-acre property

– Preparing to demolish, Glover discovered ornate wood-work and silk wallpaper hidden under layers of black paint and plywood and committed to a restoration

– Glover opened a cocktail lounge in a back room of the building and charged a $1 membership to the “Hollywood Hill Club”

– Jesse, the resident handyman, doubled as bartender, serving drinks for 35 cents

– Soon the popular bar outgrew its space and was expanded into the next room, then the next, until it took up the entire east side of the building

Postcard featuring the black swan lake in front of Yamashiro's nearly 600-year old pagoda.
Postcard featuring the black swan lake in front of Yamashiro’s nearly 600-year old pagoda.

– One New Year’s Eve, T.O. Glover’s son Tom Glover – who now owns and operates the restaurant – served hot hors d’oeuvres to the bar guests and Yamashiro Restaurant was born

– Starting with just four tables, Yamashiro Restaurant expanded into the remaining rooms of the palace, and for the next 40 years was developed into a world famous dining spot accommodating up to 500 guests

– Recently the Pagoda Bar has been added on a terrace above the pool overlooking the 600 year old pagoda with the entire skyline of Hollywood as a backdrop

– A weekly Farmers Market (every Thursday April through September) takes place with a spectacular view of the city, where guests enjoy food offerings from Yamashiro, sipping wine and beer while perusing an exciting assortment of foods, produce, and other treasures from the vendors

The Summer Home circa 1922.
The Summer Home circa 1922

– The Sentry Gate was purely ornamental. It stands at the entrance of the stairs that connected Sycamore Ave. and the top of the hill, where the main building of Yamashiro stands.

– The Summer House is also a ceremonial structure, a few steps from the top of the stairs as a resting place for guests climbing those stairs

Hidden tunnel that leads to the mysterious Monkey House.
Hidden tunnel that leads to the mysterious Monkey House.


– The Monkey House was originally built to house a collection of monkeys.

– It was built like a cave made of chicken wire and plaster on the inner part, where the monkeys could sleep. There was an outdoor area with small ponds and swings

– In the late 50s, it was converted to an apartment and rented to several movie stars including Randy Prince, whose father owned much of Hollywood Blvd.

– Randy threw lavish parties for which he and the Monkey House became famous around Hollywood. He filled a bathtub with mai tai and guests dipped their glasses in.

– In 1978, Thomas Y. Glover moved into the Monkey House and re-built it into a comfortable residence. He lived there until 1993. Since then it has been occupied by several Hollywood celebrities

Arbor and statuary that once resided on the grounds.
Arbor and statuary that once resided on the grounds.


– The Tea House was built at the time of the Yamashiro main building, and was a model of an actual Japanese tea house

– It was connected to the main building by a switchback walkway, cascades, and waterfalls. These elements can be seen in some of the old photos

– In the late 1950s, the Tea House was converted to an apartment and was occupied for 20 years by actor Pernell Roberts (Ben Cartwright’s eldest son on the TV show Bonanza, 1959-1965) and later the star of the medical drama Trapper John, M.D. (1979-1986)

– Not long after Pernell vacated the Tea House, vandals lit fires on the hillside, burning the Tea House down. The foundation is still there, but the structure is gone. Visible are the remains of the water cascades and waterfalls

Screenshot of the film Sayonara, starring Marlon Brando.
Screenshot of the film Sayonara, starring Marlon Brando.

YAMASHIRO’S PLACE IN HOLLYWOOD– Since the 1920s, Yamashiro has served as “Japan” in many film and TV productions

– Director Joshua Logan chose the palace as the officers’ club in his classic film Sayonara starring Marlon Brando

– During the 50s & 60s Yamashiro became known through popular TV series such as I Spy, Route 66, Perry Mason, and My Three Sons

– Celebrities, including Jerry Dunphy, Richard Pryor, and Pernell Roberts, lived in apartments on the grounds

– Yamashiro has hosted Hollywood premieres, corporate events, and wrap parties for productions such as Lethal Weapon 4, Rush Hour, and Third Rock from the Sun

– Filmings include Memoirs of a Geisha, Gone in 60 Seconds, Blind Date, Thousand Men and a Baby, Playing God, and Teahouse of the August Moon as well as countless commercials and photo-shoots