During the Edo period, ‘sand drying’ fields were developed along the beaches of the Kojima district of Kurashiki city, Okayama prefecture, which led to the area prospering in the salt industry.
In the late Edo period, a Nozaki Buzaemon, who would later be known as the king of Japan’s salt fields, promoted large-scale salt fields and built a fortune as a businessman.
The mansion he had built during the Edo period can be found completely preserved in Kojima district.
Located by the seashore in Kojima district, this is Kyu-Nozakihama-Tomyodai (Old Lighthouse of Nozaki Beach). Built in 1863, it’s a wooden lighthouse that has been preserved since the Edo period.
Nozaki Buzaemon had this lighthouse built by the harbor from where salt was shipped.
There are other wooden lighthouses around Japan, but the build quality of this one is extraordinarily elegant; gems were placed on the roof, and the roof tile ornaments among others were made with painstaking detail.
Around 1km inland from the lighthouse, you can find the completely preserved mansion that Nozaki had built. The mansion grounds are nearly 10 thousand square meters, and they are open to the general public as Nozaki’s historical residence.
This is the Nagaya-mon gate (service gate) of the mansion. There is also a gate of honor (‘onarimon’) that was opened only when guests of honor such as the feudal lord of Okayama visited.
The businessman was a person important enough for the feudal lord to come visit in person!
The length of this living room is beyond normal; it’s a whopping 42 meters long. From this viewpoint, you can see how the 9 tatami rooms are connected.
Next, the garden – the building on the left side is the main reception hall (‘Omoteshoin’).
The Kare-sansui garden (a dry landscape style Japanese garden) was created by utilizing the abundant stone material found in the local Kojima region. You can also spot rare plants such as the Japanese sago palm.
This is the reception room (‘ue no ma’) of the main reception hall. The interior is decorated with hanging scrolls, and on the edge of the veranda there is even a suikinkutsu (a buried earthen jar that makes a sound as water hits it). The main reception hall was used for receiving important guests. Even the Okayama feudal lord must have once entered this space.
Within the grounds you can also find a row of large storehouses. All of these are also original buildings from the Edo period. Storehouses were once called tradesmen’s castles.
Displaying an abundance of materials related to the salt fields, one of the storehouses currently acts as a Salt industry history hall.
And within another storehouse hanging scrolls among other invaluable treasures are on display.
Including the Nagaya-mon gate and the kitchen there are a total of 17 buildings that have survived since the Edo period. They have all been designated as Japan’s important cultural assets.
In general you are not allowed to enter the buildings, but you can study the interiors from outside by walking around the outer edges of the terrace.
But it really is a surprise that one could make such a fortune with salt fields!
Nozaki’s historical residence is an invaluable cultural asset that conveys the appearance of Edo period wealth to the world of today.
Location: 1-11-19 Ajino, Kojima, Kurashiki city, Okayama prefecture
Guide Homepage: http://www.nozakike.or.jp/ (Japanese)
Nozaki’s Salt industry history hall & Nozaki’s historical residence:
Closed: Mondays (if Monday is a public holiday, the residence will be closed the following day), New Year’s holiday (December 25-January 1st)
Fees: Adults (high school students and over) JPY500, Elementary & Middle school students JPY300
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Hironobu Matsuoka
Hironobu Matsuoka / Photo-writer Born in 1974 in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, and currently living there, Hironobu is the president of Mediapolis Inc. "I travel around the country in Solar King, an eco-camping car that has a solar power generator, and film the beautiful scenery of Japan in high-definition. I want to move around the country as much as possible and leave behind videos of precious Japanese nature and scenery for future generations to enjoy. Although I travel all over the country, I love my home area of Setouchi." 'Healing Japan TV' - Traveling virtually around the country through 'healing videos'.
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