• History
  • Design
  • Wood Engraving
  • Wood Carving

Photo Gallery

Manpei Hotel & Icchodo

Karuizawa as a Summer Resort Destination

Meiji Era to the Taisho Era - Icchodo's Origins In 1886, a missionary from the United Kingdom, named Mr. Alexander Croft Shaw, visited the Karuizawa area. Later, he began to recommend the area to family and friends for its stunning nature and comfortable climate. By renting a home as a summer villa, Mr Shaw is said to have sparked Karuizawa's noteriety as a summer resort destination.

Over the years the area began to flourish. In 1888, Shaw built a summer cottage on Mt. Otsuka inviting guests, such as missionaries, diplomats and friends who later built their own villas and summer cottages in the area.

The Beginning of Karuizawa Carving

As more and more villas increased in the area, there was a rapidly increasing demand for furniture. Westerners at that time liked decorative wood-carved furniture. Therefore, furniture craftsmen and accomplished wood carvers from Nikko were called to Karuizawa to help with the demand. The style of furniture produced for the American and European villas from that era serves as the model for the present Karuizawa Woodcrafters.

Craftsmen of the time integrated traditional Japanese techniques into the Western furniture, creating a new, unique style of furniture. The technique, originating with the traditional crafts in Karuizawa, has been passed down from generation to generation. It is still alive to this day and has been designated an official cultural asset of Nagano Prefecture.