NOSHIRO, Akita -- A former traditional Japanese-style restaurant building in this north Japan city still retains its elegant atmosphere 84 years after it was rebuilt.
At the former luxurious restaurant Kaneyu, birds chirping can be heard from its well-tended garden. Having been founded as a rental parlor, Kaneyu was rebuilt in 1937 and registered as a national tangible cultural asset in 1998. The restaurant business closed its doors in 2008, and the building now serves as the city's tourism exchange center.
Located at the mouth of the Yoneshiro River, which flows into the Sea of Japan, Noshiro prospered as a port city where high quality Akita cedar was traded. The Kaneyu building, with its lavish use of natural Akita cedar wood, conveys the atmosphere of the prosperous bustle when Noshiro was called the "largest lumber city in the East."
The compartment ceiling with wood-grain patterned boards placed in the shape of the manji symbol in the large hall with 110 tatami mats on the second floor is spectacular. The structure with no walls offers a spacious feeling while alcove posts made of mono maple wood give a stately atmosphere. In the medium-sized Mangetsu room on the first floor, five 9.1-meter-long solid pieces of timber taken from a single tree are used in the ceiling. In the Tagoto room, which politicians and important customers used for meetings and other purposes, windows decorated with motifs of pine, bamboo and plum reflect the elegance of the time.
Akita's famous cedar apparently becomes more beautiful as time goes by.
(Japanese original by Akihiro Ogomori, Photo and Video Center)