Old Aoyama Villa
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Old Aoyama Villa

The Old Aoyama Villa was built on the business of pulling fish, specifically herring, from the sea. The Aoyama family was one of the region’s three most important, controlling a fishing operation boasting more than 10 tohs—a toh is a group of 25 to 100 fishermen—who could pull in as many as half a million fish a night. With that many fish coming in, the Aoyama family was able to spare no expense on this villa. Starting in 1917, a crew of 40 took six years to finish the place; it's largely made of lovely zelkova wood, with accents of rosewood, cedar and blackwood. The details of the house are amazing: Wood was set so carefully that no joints were needed, and the door hardware is as intricate as jewelry.

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