The Fukunishi Honten Shop
The Black Storehouses of the Fukunishi Honten Shop.
Enjoy shopping and gourmet dining while experiencing the atmosphere of a stately, early 20th century trading house
(built during the Taisho era).
The Fukunishi Honten (Main Shop), completed in 1914, was the property of a prominent Fukunishi merchant family, which flourished from the late 19th century to the early 20th century.
The outer walls of three storehouses in particular (the main shop storehouse, the Buddhist memorial service storehouse, and the charcoal storehouse) which face Omachi Street (a red bricked street, also known as the “Hideyo Noguchi Memorial Street”) were constructed using black plaster, which is famously difficult to work with.
Black plaster is said to drive out misfortune; nevertheless, it is made by adding ink made from burnt pine to plaster, and requires an especially high degree of skill to polish the entire wall to an even jet-black color. The main component of plaster is white slaked lime powder, to which the fine soot particles of ink made from burning pine wood are added and mixed evenly. By kneading this mixture over and over again, one is able to achieve a wall surface that does not lose its shine, like that of a mirror.
The beauty of the black outer walls combined with the red roof tiles is a modern day testament to the power and wealth of this merchant family in the past.
The present-day Wakamatsu castle donjon is a reconstruction of the five-story, white plaster and red brick tower from the time of the Aizu-Matsudaira. It is reported, however, that the castle’s initial construction in the time of Gamo was a seven-story tower made of black plaster (or black lacquered wood) and black brick. It can also be taken as a contrast between the “black” of the Toyotomi shogunate and the “white” of the Tokugawa shogunate.
Incidentally, firing the black bricks required a reducing flame at high temperatures; however, as that high-grade technique went out of use, it became difficult to fire good quality black bricks in the Aizu area. It is thought that the transition to glazed red bricks produced by an oxidizing flame was subsequently made.
The second floor of the main building is a large hall. Behind the main building are two storehouses; the one located to the northeast of the property was used as the parlor to entertain guests.
The high ceilings of the main building are another testament to the wealth of the Fukunishi family at the time.
In the southeast corner, connected to the main building is a two story annex which overlooks the garden. The annex features good airflow, where guests could rest.
The Fukunishi Honten was refurbished with national contributions and is open to the public. The origin and use of each building is as follows:
(black plaster storehouse; 2 stories)
Originally, this was the space used for business and the handling of goods. After renovation, it will become a store to sell specialty Aizu goods and souvenirs.
The Buddhist Altar
（black plaster storehouse; 2 stories）
This altar room was used to house and pray to the ancestors of the Fukunishi family. It is not scheduled to be opened to the public.
The Coal Storehouse
（black plaster storehouse; 2 stories）
This storehouse was once a place to store charcoal, cotton, and other goods. After renovation, it will become a charcoal grilling specialty store called Sumikura.
The Main Building
（wooden, 2 stories）
The main building is where the Fukunishi family lived. The large hall on the second floor was used to host banquets and meetings. After renovation, the space will be used to house the Fukunishi family exhibition.
The Parlor Building
（storehouse; 2 stories）
Originally this building facing the garden was used to host guests. After renovation, the space will become a chic, tatami-floored room where you can enjoy Japanese style dinners.
The Main Building Storehouse
（storehouse; 2 storie）
This is where the employees lived, and performed work such as futon-making. After renovation, it will be turned into a stylish, Soho-style café gallery.
Tea Ceremony Building
（wooden; 2 stories）
This was once a place where guests could rest and enjoy the garden. After renovation, it will become a Japanese-style café.
The Salt Storehouse
（storehouse; 2 stories）
This storehouse was originally where salt and miso soy sauce were kept.
After renovations, the space will become a specialty shop for selling goods such as Japanese soba noodles.
300 years of
Fukunishi Family History
The Fukunishi family, which flourished in the castle town known as Aizuwakamatsu, has a history spanning over 300 years.
The Fukunishi family is said to be decedents of the Akamatsu clan blood line, of which Prince Shinnou Tomohira, son of Emperor Murakami (the 62nd emperor of Japan) was also a member.
The Akamatsus ruled over Harima (modern day Hyogo), but power over the area declined during the Sengoku period (late 15th century to the late 16th century).
Clan descendants moved to Yamato (modern day Nara), and flourished in an area known as Touin, where the family was divided into four surnames: Fukukita, Fukuminami, Fukuhigashi, and Fukunishi.
The family now known as the Fukunishi family were connected to the Fujii family, a flourishing merchant family in Sakai (modern day Osaka). Their move to Aizu was the advent of the Fukunishi family.
In the 18th century, in the time of Tokugawa Yoshimune (Kyoho Era 1716-1736), the first generation Ihee Fukunishi came to Aizu, and since then, the descendants of the Fukunishi family worked as merchants and the family business thrived throughout the 18th century.
During the Meiji era (starting in1868), the family expanded their wholesale business (dealing with various in addition to wholesale business dealing with various kinds of goods, and entered into the miso, soy sauce, and lacquerware industries.
Nearly 100 years ago, the 9th Ihee Fukunishi (Ihee being the first name which was inherited by heads of the Fukunishi Family) became an important merchant who served as the president of the Aizu area’s banks, and was the founder of a railroad company.
Most of the storehouse and buildings of the modern day Fukunishi Honten were built by the 9th Ihee Fukunishi.
Sometime after, a separate branch family was begun in order to participate in the miso, soy sauce, and lacquerware industries, while the main family was to deal primarily with the cotton and bedding industry.
However, in the latter half of the 20th century, the family has abandoned the cotton and bedding business. Given the opportunity to renovate the grounds, the decision was made to move toward tourism and tourism facilities.
Sketch of the Fukunishi Honten Shop
150 years ago, Aizuwakamatsu became the battle grounds of the largest battle of
the Boshin Civil War.
Aizuwakamatsu is located in the southernmost part of the Tohoku region, in the heart of the Aizu area.
The Aizu area is located in a large basin, and flourished during the 4th century (the Kofun Period). In 1590, Ujisato Gamo came from Kinki (the modern day Kyoto area) and became lord of Aizu; under his reign, great progress was achieved in the region.
Before the area came to be known as Aizuwakamatsu, it was known as Kurokawa, “Land Along the Hagurokawa River”. The name of the area changed when Lord Gamo, in an effort to build up the castle town, constructed a large castle (Tsurugajo Castle); the place became known as Wakamatsu, “Land of Fresh Greenery”.
Lord Gamo also brought advance industries from the Kinki region to Aizu, which included lacquerware, brewing, tiles and pottery, creating new commerce and industry in the region.
Omachi Street, where the Fukunishi Honten Shop still stands, was also created by Lord Gamo, to serve as the main commercial street.
By the beginning of the Edo era (1643), the Matsudaira family, relatives to the Tokugawa Shogun, had become the rulers of the Aizu area.
At the end of the Edo period (the late 19th century), Japan became divided into two sides; the side of the Tokugawa Shogunate, and the side of the New Meiji Government. The country broke out into civil war (known as the Boshin Civil War), and the Matsudairas along with the Aizu region sided with the Tokugawa side. In August, 1868, Aizuwakamatsu became the grounds for a fierce battle.
Even today, graffiti left behind by the Meiji government forces (the Tosa clan specifically, who are from modern day Kochi) can be seen on the Fukunishi Honten’s salt storehouse walls.
This civil war ended in the defeat of the Tokugawa Shogun, and the Meiji Government took control over the country, and ending the era of the samurai.
Aizuwakamatsu moved from the front stage of history, and left behind an atmosphere of the castle town that is still present today.
Among these remnants stands the stylish Omachi street, where the Fukunishi Honten shop is located, as well as the hospital where Hideyo Noguchi studied medicine, which has been turned into a retro café.
For this reason, Omachi Street is also called “Noguchi Hideyo Seishun Street”.
Aizu War Kibun (The scene of the Boshin Civil War)
Prewar Tsurugajo Castle and
Tsurugajo Castle（Rebuilt in 1965）
You can visit the treasure of the Fukunishi family free of charge.
Certain items of the family make public in the Fukunishi Honten Shop.
The long history of the Fukunishi Family has been collected in a number of art works and artifacts.
The 9th and 10th generation of the Ihee in particular often interacted with contemporary culture and artists, and their work has been preserved.
One piece in particular, by Entaku Katou, is a hanging scroll titled Sansui-zu.
Entaku Katou was from Aizu and an esteemed painter for the Aizu clan; he was one of the lead artists from the Kano school, a specialist group of artists that existed during the Edo period.
Another piece, by Tamon Yamauchi, is the Kokeisansho-zu, a screen depicting a gathering three rise religious figures representing, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism.
Tamon Yamauchi was a Japanese painter from Miyazaki, active in the Meiji era and early Showa era. It is believed that he interacted collaboratively with the Fukunishi family.
A fine display cabinet has also been preserved.
This cabinet is said to have been exhibited at the 1925 Paris World's Fair.
Sansui-zu (hanging scroll)
A fine display cabine