Takadaya Kahei
Born in 1769 on Awaji Island
Awaji Island
is an island in Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan, in the eastern part of the Seto Inland Sea between the islands of Honshū and Shikoku. The island has an area of 592.17 km²...

, was a Japanese merchant credited with transforming the trading outpost of Hakodate in Japan's northern island of Hokkaidō
, formerly known as Ezo, Yezo, Yeso, or Yesso, is Japan's second largest island; it is also the largest and northernmost of Japan's 47 prefectural-level subdivisions. The Tsugaru Strait separates Hokkaido from Honshu, although the two islands are connected by the underwater railway Seikan Tunnel...

 into a thriving city. He is also recognised for opening the northern Etorofu
Etorofu was an escort ship of the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II....

 sea route to the Kuril island fisheries and helping settle territorial disputes with Russia over the islands.

Takadaya Kahei was born to a farming family, but left his birth place when was 13, to work in Kobe
, pronounced , is the fifth-largest city in Japan and is the capital city of Hyōgo Prefecture on the southern side of the main island of Honshū, approximately west of Osaka...

 as a sailor. He earned sufficient money to purchase his own Kitamaebune
The was a shipping route in Japan from the Edo to the Meiji periods. The route went from Osaka through the Seto Inland Sea and the Kanmon Straits to ports in Hokuriku on the Sea of Japan and later to Hokkaidō....

 trading ship and sailed to Hakodate in the summer of 1796. He set up a business in the town, which at the time was a small trading outpost.

He is reputed to have made a fortune through trade by importing sake, salt, rice and other staples to Ezochi (the Japanese area of Hokkaidō) and exporting herring, salmon and kelp to Honshū
is the largest island of Japan. The nation's main island, it is south of Hokkaido across the Tsugaru Strait, north of Shikoku across the Inland Sea, and northeast of Kyushu across the Kanmon Strait...

. He later developed trading routes to the Kuril Islands and operated many fisheries around Nemuro
Nemuro may refer to several place names in Hokkaidō Prefecture, Japan:* Nemuro Subprefecture, which includes:** Nemuro City** Nemuro Peninsula** Nemuro Strait...

, a town on Hokkaidō's east coast.

Takadaya is also known for his services in developing Hakodate. He repaired streets, cultivated the land and forested trees for lumber. After a destructive fire in 1806 he provided food, clothing and new housing for victims of the disaster. He also paid for workmen from Osaka to sink new wells and donated water pumps for fire fighting.

He acquired a status as one of the most famous merchants in the era for his role in the Golovnin incident. In 1812, during a dispute over the Kuril Island territorial waters, Takadaya Kahei was captured by Petr Rikord, captain of the Russian navy sloop in retaliation for the Japanese capture of explorer Vasily Golovnin
Vasily Golovnin
Vasily Mikhailovich Golovnin .-Early life and career:Vasily Mikhailovich Golovnin was born in April 1776, in the village of Gulyniki in Ryazan Oblast, on his father's country estate. Both his father and grandfather had served in the Russian military as officers in the elite Preobrazhensky...

. Along with his four sailors who was also captured on board the Kanze-maru, Takadaya Kahei was confined in Kamchatka for several months, his release finally secured through diplomacy. During his imprisonment he learned the Russian language and later worked with Vasily Golovnin to settle the Kuril Islands territorial border between the two countries.

At the age of 50, Takadaya returned to his birthplace of Awaji Island. He died in 1827.

A festival is held in Hakodate every year in late July to commemorate Takadaya Kahei.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.