In Japan, that cheery cry brings old and young to the table for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It doesn’t say which, but it doesn’t have to. “Gohan” means “rice,” and there’s seldom a meal without it.
In the old days, there was seldom a town without a rice market. Most of the old rice shops are gone now, but in Kesennuma an odd-shaped store still stands, a slice of history that has filled our rice bowls for generations. Welcome to Takeyama Rice Retailer House!
Its story began in 1877, and five generations have guided it through many changes and challenges since then. The business moved to its present site in 1900, where it burned in the great fire of 1914, during the Taishio era.
Another fire raged through the area during the Showa era in 1929, and out of that disaster rose the main building you see today. It was designed in a traditional Japanese style and built in about a year and a half. Like many buildings in the inner harbor area, its odd shape was dictated by the lines of its site. In 2005 it became a national Registered Tangible Cultural Property.
Then the great tsunami of 2011 flooded the building with nearly ten feet of seawater. The waves tore away the eaves and a small wing behind the warehouse, but most of the main building survived and has now been restored. On the outside of the building, a slight change in color was painted on one side to show how high the water reached. It’s halfway up the two-story wall!
In 2017 an annex was completed, so the market today consists of the new annex, the odd-shaped main building of 1930, and a stone warehouse dating back to the early 1900s. The city named it a Tangible Cultural Property in 2017.