HOME@THE KOTOU MERCHANT JAPANESE

Gokasho merchant

During the late years of Edo period, Koto merchants, mainly originating from areas of Echigawa river basin,
such as Gokasho, Echigawa, Notogawa, Takamiya, entered in trading business.
During this period, for sake of increasing financial resources,
buying domestic goods was encouraged in various domains for sake increasing financial resources,
and so political monopoly became active.
In Koto district, with support of the domain of Hikone, local industry production of hemp cloth became active,
and so Koto merchants' special product became Ohmi hemp cloths, which were sold nationwide.
Koto merchants, who dealt mainly textile items, bought their stocks from Keihan and Tokaido.
Mainly their stock included articles like kimono fabrics and cotton made goods, which were later sold in Kanto and Shinshu areas,
In Kanto and Touhoku area, kimono fabrics of Kanto, raw silk threads and dyer's safflowers sort of goods were bought,
and sold in areas such as Nagoya, Ohmi, Keihan, This type of trade was called as "Sanbutsumawashi"
For Koto merchants, who attended this type trading, wealth grew steadily.
Method of market development was to avoid large commercial areas.
Merchants preferred small roads, far away from big roads, where they made their official place for store.
Koto merchants made deals with small village's general stores, for the sake of getting their products for sale in the store.

By the support of feudal domain, people in rural villages prospered, and by this way,
Koto merchantsf business activities grew. This is the connecting factor between former and present day trading company activities.
As Ohmi merchant, Koto merchant made entry to the trading business quite late.
Merchants have already changed their trading into modern type of business,
but are doing respectable continuance in trading business as an old company.
After Meiji restoration, headquarters of trading companies were moved mainly to Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto
Most of these companies, instead of continuing only domestic business, wanted to develop trading in overseas.
Chu-be Itoh, who was the founder of general trading companies as "Itouchu" and "Marubeni",
and Katsujirou Nakae, founder of "Minakai", built large department store network in Korean peninsula and continent of China.

The signboard of the Ito family cloth store

-----Gokasho area-----

Use a bus from JR Notogawa station or Ohmi railway Youkaichi station.
It takes about 10 minutes by bus to reach Sanpouyoshi plaza bus stop, from where 5 minutes of walking is required to reach the streets of Kondo.

Streets of Kondo

Mansions of three Ohmi merchants, (Uhi Tonomura, Jungoro Nakae and Shigeru Tonomura) are nowadays open to public to visit.
The area has been chosen as a traditional architectures preservation district, as a lot of old buildings, made with white plaster and former wood of a ship, are left
Scenery of the streets feels like being lost in set of historical drama, and that is the
main reason why a lot movies and period dramas are filmed there.
Inside the district, a small river with clean water flows alongside the road. In the water, colored carps can be seen swimming elegantly.

Three mansions of Ohmi merchants

Entrance fee: Adult 600 yen, child 300 yen
Closed day and holidays: Monday (in case of national holiday, the following day) and New Year holidays.

Omi merchant museum

During Edo and Meiji periods, Ohmi merchants became notable businessmen by aqcuiring wealth through doing active trading all over the country
For explaining the origin of the success simply, video and replica are introduced at the museum.

Entrance fee: Adult 200 yen, child 100 yen
Closed day and holidays: Monday (in case of national holiday, the following day), and New Year holidays

Residence of Ohmi merchant, Hikoshiro Fujii

Birthplace of Hikoshiro Fujii, who earned a fortune by manufacture and sales of woolen thread called skii keito,
has a huge plot including several buildings and a garden which is arranged in "Tisenkaiyu" -style.
The garden has a pond imitating the lake Biwa.
In the building, there is an exhibition of tools, which Gokasho merchants once used when they traveled to trade nationwide.

Entrance fee: Adult 300 yen, child 100 yen
Closed day and holidays: Monday (in case of national holiday, the following day) and New Year holidays.

Ohmi merchant, Nakauemon Tsukamoto, invested a private fortune in landscape gardening, taking advantage of geographical features, in order to make a park.
As the name of the park states by meaning autumn colors, during autumn leaves are dyed with splendid variations of red and yellow colors.

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