Chapman Residence Shingu Wakayama 1

The owner of a historic home in Shingu City in Wakayama Prefecture, donated a 89-year old western-style house to the City.

Although the house was donated for free, the city agreed to pay approximately 18 million Yen (152,000 USD) for the 730 sqm block of land. The city plans to repair the home and open it to visitors. The total cost of the project, including the purchase price, was estimated at around 100 million Yen (843,000 USD).

The former Chapman Residence was built in 1926 for American missionary E.N. Chapman and his family. It was designed by architect Isaku Nishimura (1884-1963), the founder of the Bunka Gakuin School in Sumida-ku, Tokyo. Nishimura was born into a wealthy merchant family in Shingu City. His father, Yohei Oishi, was and elder of the Presbyterian Church and named Isaku after Isaac from the Old Testament. Isaku’s uncle, Seinosuke Oishi, was one of the 12 conspirators executed in the High Treason Incident in 1911.

Nishimura and Chapman Residences Shingu Wakayama
The Nishimura Residence (left) and Chapman Residence (right). Image via
Nishimura Residence Shingu Wakayama
Isaku Nishimura’s private residence in Shingu, c1915.

In 1915, Isaku designed his own home in Shingu, which is still standing and located just across the street from the Chapman residence. His home is designated as a national important cultural property and operated as a memorial museum.

The Chapman residence is 3-storey wood-frame house with a basement. It was initially 250 sqm in size, but later additions expanded the total floor area to 530 sqm. The Chapman family lived in the house until 1941. Following WWII, Mr. Okiura purchased the house and operated it as a ryokan (inn) until 1978.

The house narrowly escaped demolition thanks to the efforts of local residents who petitioned the city to purchase the property from the previous owner.


2 Shingu, Shingu City, Wakayama Prefecture

The Mainichi Shimbun, August 7, 2015.
The Yomiuri Shimbun, August 5, 2015.