[Shibusara Warehouse]

The Otaru Canal runs right in front of the Otaru Showroom, and the stone warehouses lining the Otaru Canal are famous as a sightseeing spot in Otaru. Since the Meiji government made Sapporo the center of Hokkaido development, a port was built in Otaru to supply goods to Sapporo, and many warehouses were built mainly near the sea as a logistics base to store goods brought to the port. When the Otaru Canal was constructed in the Taisho era (1912-1926), warehouses were built along the canal to efficiently transport goods, and they still stand today.

Among the many warehouses, the one you see in front of you when you look at the canal from the showroom window is a warehouse with beige walls, a green roof, and a red mark. On the door of the warehouse is written "Shibusawa Warehouse". This Shibusawa Warehouse is a warehouse owned by "Shibusawa Warehouse Department" (which became "Shibusawa Warehouse Co., Ltd." in 1909), which was founded in 1897 by Eiichi Shibusawa, the "father of modern Japanese capitalism" who was the subject of an NHK TV drama and who will be the portrait on the new 10,000 yen bill to be issued from 2024. Ltd. in 1909. So, I looked into what kind of relationship it has with Otaru.

Eiichi Shibusawa was born in 1840 in Chiaraijima Village, Hanzawa County, Musashi Province, which is now Fukaya City, Saitama Prefecture, and grew up in a farming family whose main business was field cultivation, sericulture, and the production and sale of indigo beads, which were used as dye for indigo dyeing. Since he worked with his father selling indigo beads, it is said that he naturally learned how to do business in the course of his daily life. Later, he went to Edo (present-day Tokyo) and worked as a samurai who planned to overthrow the shogunate based on the principle of "reverence for the emperor and exclusion of foreigners," but a chance encounter turned him into a samurai in the service of Yoshinobu Hitotsubashi, who later became the 15th shogun of the Edo shogunate. He also accompanied a delegation to the Paris World Exposition in France and toured European countries, where he came into contact with advanced European industries and social systems, and became a bureaucrat in the Ministry of Finance under the new government after the Meiji Restoration. After leaving the bureaucracy, he contributed to the development of Japan's economy as a businessman, and was involved in the establishment of about 500 large companies, many of which are still leading companies in their industries, and about 600 non-profit organizations. His career is difficult to summarize succinctly.

The companies and businesses Eiichi Shibusawa was involved in as a private businessman after leaving the bureaucracy of the Ministry of Finance included banking, telecommunications, paper manufacturing, and insurance. He had a warehouse rental business in Fukagawa, Tokyo, where he rented out his warehouses to nearby merchants. Eiichi Shibusawa invested in the company and left the management to his son Atsuji. In 1915, the company was asked by a regional bank to establish a modern warehouse company in Otaru, and opened the Otaru Branch Office. The building used at that time is the "Old Shibusawa Warehouse" located along the North Canal, which is designated as a historical building by Otaru City. This warehouse was built around 1892 by Matabee Endo, who made his living by herring fishing, and it seems that he acquired it and used it as the Otaru Branch Office, and after extensions, three triangular-roofed warehouses were combined into the current form.

Currently, this warehouse is used as a hall space for cafes and live performances. The canal in front of the warehouse is quiet and not crowded with tourists, but when it was used as Shibusawa Warehouse, it must have been full of life with ships coming and going, people loading and unloading goods, and people working in the warehouse. There is no "Shibusawa Warehouse" or company logo on the old Shibusawa Warehouse in the North Canal, but there are other buildings with "Shibusawa Warehouse" like the one in front of the Otaru Showroom in the canal area. The autumn breeze is pleasant and it is the best season to go out. Please pay attention to them when you stroll around Otaru.

Otaru Showroom