Visit to the Nippon Club of Takaoka Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Toyama – A connection made by “Shofuden”
The villa of Dr. Jokichi Takamine (1854-1922), a chemist born in Takaoka City, Toyama Prefecture, and the first president of the Nippon Club, “Shofuden” was built as a Japan Pavilion at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, U.S. After the fair, Dr. Takamine took over the villa and moved it to the suburbs of New York (Forestburgh, NY), where it was used as a social gathering place for Japan-U.S. friendship and as a guest house for important political and financial figures.
Shigeru Kobayashi, who worked as a sukiya carpenter in New York, was involved in the renovation and restoration of Shofuden in the late 1990s. After Mr. Kobayashi passed away, his wife, Mrs. Itsuko Kobayashi, wanted to donate the materials he had collected during that time to somewhere, so she consulted her friend Ms. Yaeko Masuji, a researcher on Alzheimer’s disease. Ms. Masuji contacted Takaoka City in Toyama, where Dr. Takamine was born, and in the spring of 2023, she visited Takaoka City on Mrs. Kobayashi’s behalf to donate the collection.
This time, members of the Takaoka Chamber of Commerce and Industry visited New York for group training in Takaoka City, and on October 18, they visited Dr. Takamine’s grave in Woodlawn Cemetery, the former site of Shofuden in the Catskills, and the Nippon Club with Mr. Kobayashi and Mr. Masuji.
The Takaoka Chamber of Commerce and Industry has launched the “Dr. Jokichi Takamine Recognition Project” to pass on Dr. Takamine’s achievements to future generations, and as part of the project, has been working on the reproduction of Shofuden, and has been showing a part of it in the first floor lobby of the Takaoka Commerce and Industry Building since 2020. This time, people from companies involved in the reproduction of Shofuden, including the company that manages the reproduction, furnishings, and pamphlet production, visited the Nippon Club and met with Masaaki Maeda, Director of the Nippon Club Office.
They also toured the Japanese-style rooms, Matsu room and Take room, on the fourth floor of the Nippon Club, and the Japanese-style restroom on the third floor, both of which were created by Mr. Kobayashi. Mrs. Kobayashi said, “In my life, there will always be Shofuden.”
Dr. Jokichi Takamine
Born in Takaoka City, Toyama Prefecture in 1854. After his marriage, he lived permanently in the United States. He discovered the digestive enzyme taka-diastase and the hormone adrenaline, and is known as the father of American biotechnology. He was one of the founders of the Japanese community in New York, and together with Yukio Ozaki, then Governor of Tokyo, donated cherry trees to the Potomac River in Washington, D.C., with his private fortune, and made a great contribution to the friendship between Japan and the United States.