Oldest merchant house in Kanto region demolished

Demolition of the Mizumura Residence in Kawagoe, Saitama, started on April 24. Built in the 1700s, this is said to have been one of the oldest surviving machiya townhouses in the Kanto region. 

It was a considerably valuable piece of history, having survived the great fire of 1893 that destroyed much of the castle town. 

The machiya included a shopfront with a mezzanine floor and a single-story residence at the rear. The roof was originally clad with cedar bark, which was later covered over with sheet iron. During the Edo period the store sold miso and koji. From the Meiji period onwards it was a rice store. 

According to historians, the house is thought to have been built sometime after the great fire of 1726. Kawagoe was strongly influenced by nearby Edo (now Tokyo), with this home very similar in style to the machiya townhouses that were found in Edo. It even included a buddhist altar dating from the late 1500s.

In 2019, the Kawagoe Board of Education had sought to have the house designated as a cultural property but were unable to obtain the permission from the current owner. Descendants of the Mizumura family petitioned the city to attempt to relocate the house, but the petition and the city’s efforts were unsuccessful. 

Location

Kitamachi, Kawagoe, Saitama

Sources:
The Tokyo Shimbun, April 27, 2020.
The Kawagoe Keizai Shimbun, March 24 2020.
The Tokyo Shimbun, February 21, 2020.

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