The front walkway to the Aoyama villa north of Otaru. In Taisho 8 (1913), 560 thousand tons of herring were brought into Otaru with the first haul. Needless to say, a lot of money was being made (168 billion yen at today's values). One of the top herring "barons" was the Aoyama family. Masae Aoyama, the daughter of Masakichi, wanted a big house modeled after the Honma mansion in Sakata (the Honma family were rice merchants-later golf club manufacturers), so in 1917 he began construction for his daughter. It took 6 years, 40 carpenters, and 310,000 yen to complete. For comparison, the Iseya Department Store built in Shinjuku, Tokyo, at the same time cost 500,000 yen. Eleven painters under the artist Gyokudo Kawai, painted the interior doors (the same as having Picasso do your interior). Other artists made the furniture and designed the gardens. Even the restroom fixtures were made by pottery artisans from Arita, Kyushu. Shortly after completion, the overfished herring ran out to the point where the ecology changed and other species filled the herring's niche and the herring never recovered. The house was donated to the city of Otaru and a conference center added (background of this photo). One of the Aoyama fishermen's lodgings (nishin goten), was donated and moved to the Historical Village of Hokkaido, located to the NE of Sapporo.
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