FEATURE: Shibusawa residence returning to Tokyo

(The Japan News/ANN) - The former residence of Eiichi Shibusawa (1840-1931) — the “father of Japanese capitalism” and future occupant of the new ¥10,000 bill — is set to return to near its original location in Koto Ward, Tokyo.

TOKYO (The Japan News/ANN)—The former residence of Eiichi Shibusawa (1840-1931) — the “father of Japanese capitalism” and future occupant of the new ¥10,000 bill — is set to return to near its original location in Koto Ward, Tokyo.

 The valuable historical building will be moved from Aomori Prefecture, where it had been relocated.

 Leading general contractor Shimizu Corp., the owner of the building, plans to open it to the public in about three years.

 Shibusawa founded Japan’s first commercial bank, Dai-ichi Kokuritsu Ginko (First National Bank), and was involved in the founding and development of about 500 companies, including what are now Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co. and Kirin Brewery Co. He also served as an advisor to Shimizu, according to the company.

 Shibusawa’s former residence is a two-story wooden building with a total floor space of about 1,100 square meters. 

 Kisuke Shimizu, the company’s second-generation owner, built the residence in 1878 in the Fukagawa Fukuzumi district (now the Eitai district of the ward) using traditional Japanese architectural techniques, according to the company and the Koto ward office. Many parts of the building are made of high-quality wood, with yakusugi cedar and Japanese black persimmon used for the ceiling boards and stair rails, respectively.

 Later, stained glass was installed in the entrance and kitchen, and a Western-style annex was constructed complete with a reception room equipped with a marble stone fireplace and other features. The residence successfully blends Japanese and Western styles and stands as a testament to the popularity of Western architecture at that time.

 The building was eventually relocated from Koto Ward to the Mita district of Minato Ward, where it was used as the official residence of the finance minister and as a conference building for central government ministries and agencies. It was moved to Rokunohe, Aomori Prefecture, in 1991 and designated as a tangible cultural property of the town in 2009.

 Shimizu plans to purchase about 37,000 square meters of land in the Shiomi district of Koto Ward, and build a facility there for research, training, historical exhibits and other activities by 2022. The former Shibusawa residence is expected to be preserved on the site. The company has already acquired the building from the former owner and began dismantling it in February.

 “It is the residence of Eiichi Shibusawa, a person deeply connected to our company, and the only existing piece of architecture built by Kisuke Shimizu. We therefore want to pass the building down to future generations,” said a company spokesperson.

 Shibusawa also has a connection to the ward in the form of his tenure as chairman of what was then the Fukagawa ward assembly. “I hope many people will come to see Shibusawa’s former residence after it is returned to the ward,” said Koto Ward Mayor Takaaki Yamazaki.

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