For Sale: House next door to historic Iseya Pawnshop

An old townhouse located right next door to the historic Iseya Pawnshop in Hongo, Tokyo, was listed for sale recently. The two-story wooden house fronts onto Kikuzaka Street.

As is often the case with older homes, it is just being advertised as land with an old building included ‘as-is’. That means it is essentially listed at land value with the expectation that a buyer would simply demolish and build something new. The land is in a neighborhood commercial zone and has a registered size of 45.65 sqm (491 sq.ft). This is a fairly common size for old, pre-war merchant house lots.

Kikuzaka Street is a winding street that was named after the chrysanthemum (kiku) growers that once lived here. In the early 1900s, the neighborhood became popular with Japan’s literary greats, including famed author Ichiyo Higuchi. You may recognize her from the 5,000 Yen banknote. Higuchi lived nearby and mentioned the neighboring Iseya Pawnshop in her writings. 

The neighboring pawnshop was in business from 1860 to 1982. The white storehouse on the corner was built sometime in the Bakumatsu era (1850s – 1860s) and was relocated from Adachi to its current location in 1887. The wooden shophouse was built in 1907, and there is also a tatami room dating from 1890. Despite being heritage listed, the previous property owner planned to demolish the old pawnshop buildings and sell the land to a real estate company in 2014. A university stepped in and acquired the buildings and land a few months later. They are now occasionally opened to the public.

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