The Shibukawa Merchant House comprises into one inn the shops, houses and warehouses of the largest seafood merchants in Aizu. The Shibukawa Merchant House used to be a large shop which sold seafood.
Today, the floors have absolutely no trace of dust anywhere and are always polished till they shine, in order for customers to feel at home. There is a room in the annex named 'Room of Patriotism' where the uncle of the late owner, Zensuke Shibukawa, spent his boyhood. In business since the early Meiji period, in addition to the Shibukawa Family, more than 50 servants lived in the mansion at the height of its prosperity.
Many locations for sightseeing such as the Amida Temple can be found in the vicinity. There are many activities for visitors, such as taking a stroll through the streets that had prospered during the Meiji and Taisho periods. These streets still retain their 'Taisho Roman' atmosphere, allowing visitors to enjoy the feeling of slipping back through time.
The Omi merchants (Omi shonin) were based in Omi, but peddled their merchandise around Japan. The majority of them came from Omi-hachiman, Hino and Gokasho. Merchants from the latter, were known as Gokasho shonin.
Gokasho is known as the origin of the Omi merchants, who became considerably wealthy. Within the city, many mansions and gardens can be seen. The old city has been designated as an important cultural architecture preservation area. Some of the houses are open to visitors. Many of the shops and business enterprises that were founded in the late-Edo to Meiji period are still carrying out business today.
Rekishi-no-komichi is an historic street scene that can be seen in the Mameda area of Hita in Oita Prefecture. During the Edo period, Hita prospered for 250 years under the direct control of the Edo Bakufu government.
Many historic buildings and remnants of the Tenryo period still exist in Hita, mostly in Mameda. This area has been declared an historic townscape in order to preserve its old buildings and place in history.
During the 'Sennen-akari' event, part of the Tenryohita Matsuri, bamboo lanterns cast a soft glow over Rekishi-no-komichi along Ogawa, creating a visionary space. A Tenryo museum is also located in the area, and lets people know of the wealth that once prevailed in Hita.
Today, a stroll through the chic area of Rekishi-no-komichi in Mameda will give the visitor a sense of the atmosphere and mood of the Edo period.
Sekijuku, located in Seki-cho, Kameyama-shi, Mie Prefecture, is the only place where the past has left a trace of the memories of the Tokaido, the old coastal road between Edo and Kyoto.
Seki-cho lies at the eastern foot of Mt Suzuka. Isesuzuka-no-seki was originally a checkpoint in Seki-cho, that, along with Echizen-no-arachi and Mino-no-Fuwa, was one of three major checkpoints along the Tokaido. (A 'seki' or 'sekisho' was a barrier station on thoroughfares between provinces, where the movement of criminals, weapons, hostages, etc. could be checked.)
The current structure of the town was probably created by Seki Morinobu, who also constructed neighboring roads and the town of Nakamachi, which lies between Shinsho and Kizaki. As time passed, the streets of Nakamachi and the town itself grew and developed eastwards, eventually becoming the larger town it is today. By the late Edo period, Sekijuku had become the main post station on the Tokaido Shukuba.
In 1984, Sekijuku was designated as an Important Historic Preservation District. The Seki-Jizoin, which was nominated as an Important National Cultural Property can also be found in this district. The streets of Sekijuku are a precious reminder of the history of the Tokaido.
Running from the moat of Hikone Castle to Kyobashi bridge there is a straight road that goes over the old Middle moats within the castle grounds.
This road reflects the tradition of this castle town, with its black latticed windows, wing walls, white walls and eaves. While the area has been carefully protected, the people's lives are not so visible, such as along the area known today as Old New Town, Yumekyobashi Castle Road.
Honmachi, in Hikone, where this street is located, became a castle town in 1603 at the same time as Hikone Castle was completed. The historical town has 6-meter-wide roads, giving a taste of the past.
In 1985, city planners commenced renovation of this road, realising its historical importance. In 1999, renovation and repairs were completed and the Honmachi area was reborn as Yumekyobashi Castle Road.
The road has been decorated with images of Hikone 'karuta' (local playing cards), which lend an extra tasteful element to the road as you walk along it.
Streets featuring 'udatsu' may be seen in the town of Waki, Tokushima. The Agency of Cultural Affairs has designated these streets as Important Preservation Districts for Groups of Historic Buildings in Japan. In addition, The Ministry of Construction has selected these streets to be included among 100 (Famous) Streets of Japan and 100 (Famous) Urban Landscapes.
Udatsu are the white-plastered parts above the first floor of the houses, and were originally built to act as firewalls between each house. However, they slowly took on a more decorative function, becoming increasingly gorgeous. Eventually, roof tiles came to cover the plaster.
Fine udatsu were created for the houses of merchants around the Kansai area. The proverb 'Can’t build up the udatsu' comes from these udatsu.
To preserve these streets, the town of Waki followed national regulations for urban scenery in 1998, which led to Waki's streets being selected as the 28th Urban Landscape of Japan by The Agency of Cultural Affairs.
These streets featuring udatsu have a calm and nostalgic feel that makes you think of everyday life in Edo times.
Wakimachi, in Mima, Tokushima Prefecture, is an historic area of houses featuring udatsu wing walls. In 1988, the area was designated as the 28th National Site of Important Traditional Architecture.
Udatsu is a roof extension used as a wing wall between the first and second floors of a building. Its original function was primarily as a fire-barrier outer wall, but it became ornamental. Merchants attached udatsu to their houses to show off their wealth.
Udatsu are the origin of the saying 'Udatsu ga agaranai', which means, 'Having no chance of advancement'. Besides, because only the wealthy could afford udatsu, the adage carries snobbish overtones.
There are about 50 udatsu along the Southern street of Waki. Most were built between the late-Edo and Meiji periods. There is a great sense of Japanese history and tradition in this architecture.