"Morihachi the Castle" is in Narihira, the eastern part of a quaint and cozy district in Tokyo called Asakusa. Actually, the real name of the "castle" is O-shiro no Morihachi. It stands there, a sight to behold, in an area where many homes and shops are packed close together. The main floor is a shop selling small traditional-style cakes. The shop's name is Morihachi, and it was first established in 1933.
The shop's previous owner first got the "castle" idea after he built a gate using the design of a real castle gate. Having gone that far, why not keep going? In 1981, the store ended up looking like the main tower of a Japanese castle. There are three stories inside for the shop and residence. We asked the present owner, Mori Yaichi, to tell us about the challenges of building it.
"My Dad went to different parts of the country looking at castles, then decided to build something that would suit his fancy. He asked a local architect to design it, and a lot of trial and error followed. The roof was the most complicated part, and Dad ended up asking the advice of a traditional carpenter who had worked on the reconstruction of the roof of Nagoya Castle."
There were other problems too. For example, they wanted to install a network of bars over the windows, like in a real castle, but under Japan's Fire Services Law the bars were only allowed after more emergency doors were added. One unexpected development led to another, pushing construction costs much higher than the originally budgeted 150 million yen. And new ideas cropped up too, like spectacular paintings on the shop ceiling. It seems that it's not easy to turn a dream into reality.