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Otaru Kihinkan

Traditional Japanese architecture and gardens at a palatial villa

Otaru Kihinkan is a monument to Japanese craftsmanship and a beautiful example of Japanese architecture from the early 1920s. The palatial villa was built over six years by a wealthy fishing family, with no expense spared, after their daughter returned inspired from a summer visit to another wealthy family’s villa. The original owner, Masakichi Aoyama, wanted a house that showcased the best of traditional Japanese architecture. Masakichi hired the chief Imperial carpenter, who directed a team of 40 workmen.
This lovingly restored piece of cultural heritage showcases traditional construction techniques, including lacquer work, rosewood fanlights, and hand-painted sliding doors. The use of various woods, including rosewood, blackwood, and cedar, creates subtle texture. Paintings and calligraphy applied directly on the fusuma (sliding doors) are genuine treasures, created by Gyokudo Kawai and his team, a master of Japanese art. Outside the villa, intricate gardens extend on three sides, while the inner courtyard has a minimalist feeling created with only pine trees and rocks. A visit to the villa includes the chance to explore the surrounding gardens and enjoy a seasonal meal featuring local seafood and produce.
3-63 Shukutsu, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido

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