Kyu Aoyama Bettei (Aoyama Villa)
Kyu Aoyama Bettei (Aoyama Villa) Review
Gorgeous, gold-painted sliding doors and dark lacquered floors testify to the huge wealth of fishing millionaires, the Aoyamas. Teenage daughter Masae came home from a trip with another rich family in Honshu with big ideas about how her family could spend its fortune, and in 1917 her father commissioned the chief imperial carpenter and a team of top craftsmen to create a home and garden of sumptuousness rare in Hokkaido. The modern annex also has a good restaurant serving herring-on-rice lunches. Take Bus No. 3 from the station to the Shukutsu 3-Chome bus stop, then walk up the hill for about 1 km (½ mile).
Next door is a real-life Upstairs, Downstairs (or in this case, side-by-side) with the worker's quarters in the Nishin Goten. Herring fishermen ate, slept, and dreamed of riches in this 1897 working base. On display are kitchen appliances, nets, and mislaid personal items of the men who toiled. Photographs of the Otaru coastline lined with ships, and beaches piled high with fish, reveal how the herring heydays brought riches to some—and put a serious dent in the Pacific fish stocks.