The old mansion of Ito Den-emon, one of the well-known coal millionaires in Japan, and his second wife Yanagihara Byakuren is opened to the public in Iizuka City, Fukuoka Prefecture.
Ito Den-emon, born in a poor family in present Iizuka City, Fukuoka Prefecture in the last part of the Edo period in the middle of the 19th century, grew up in adverse circumstances being left with his relative. Thanks to his father, who succeeded in the coal-mining industry, his life had gradually stabilized. After his father’s death, he took over the small family business to expand it into many large companies, making the most of his expertise as a coal miner in his youth. He served as a member of the House of Representatives and gave to charity. So far the common story of a mushroom millionaire, his name became famous due to his second marriage. He remarried Yanagihara Akiko younger than him by 25 years after his first wife died. Akiko, although she was an illegitimate child, was a cousin of the Emperor Taisho, grandfather of the present Emperor, and was widely known as a poetess with the pen name of Yanagihara Byakuren. Things weren’t going well between them, because where each of them was born and brought up was too different. His new wife ran away with a young, educated, socially-active person Miyazaki Ryusuke, leaving a Dear John letter in newspapers like an advertisement. On the second floor of the mansion in the second picture, the graceful rooms with tatami mats for his second wife are well preserved.
By Masahisa Takaki.
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