Otaru Kihinkan: A luxurious villa that recalls the glory days of herring fishing

 

It took 6 and a half years from 1917 to build this extravagant villa of the Aoyama family, a fishing magnate that enjoyed enormous success in the herring industry during the early 20th century. The family spared no expense in the construction of the villa, making use of the finest materials and techniques available at the time. When adjusted for present value, this lavish mansion has a building cost of around 3.5 billion yen! With that in mind, just standing in front of the villa can be an overwhelming experience. The family was also known for their sophisticated taste in art, and it is apparent in the villa's interior. Everything here is a work of art, from the paintings by master artists on the fusuma sliding doors, the meticulously carved ranma wood panels, and the nageshi beams that attach seamlessly to the pillars in the rooms. The house is now a Registered Tangible Cultural Property of Japan.

One the site’s popular attractions is the Peony Festival, held every year from late May to early July. During this time, the villa’s garden blooms with around 650 peony flowers, filling the area with shades of red, pink, and yellow. The site also houses a restaurant where you can savor a lunch set of rice or soba noodles topped with dried Pacific herring, all while enjoying a view of the garden.

 

Otaru Kihinkan (The Old Aoyama Villa)

Address: Shukutsu 3-63, Otaru City, Hokkaido

Website: http://www.otaru-kihinkan.jp/en/

Phone: +81-134-24-0024 (Japanese language only)

Season: Open all year round (Peony Festival held late May to early July)

Hours: (Apr to Oct) Villa 9:00-17:00, Restaurant 11:00-17:00 / (Nov to Mar) Villa 9:00-16:00, Restaurant 11:00-16:00

Closed: Closed during New Year holidays

Cost: Entrance fee: Adults (age 13 and up) 1,080 yen / Children (age 12 and below) 540 yen / Group discount (10 persons or more) 970 yen

Information about transport passes:

JR Hokkaido Rail Pass

https://www.jrhokkaido.co.jp/global/english/ticket/railpass/index.html

Travelling within Hokkaido

https://japanbyjapan.com/blog/travelling-within-hokkaido

*Information is correct as of January 2019.

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