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Release | Takako Chiba

THE DANSHAKU LOUNGE - appeared next to Michi No Eki of Nanae-Cho

七飯町道の駅隣り「THE DANSHAKU LOUNGE」、男爵ラウンジ
Potatoes are one of the most significant crops in Hokkaido. Among them, Danshaku potatoes are famous kind. Do you know where it was first cultivated or the reason for the name Danshaku (Baron)? I will introduce “THE DANSHAKU LOUNGE,” which is a commercial complex with the museum of Baron Kawada, the reason for the name Danshaku potatoes, a restaurant, and shops.


Table of Contents

- THE DANSHAKU LOUNGE is located next to the Michi No Eki of Nanae-Cho
- All comes from the respect towards Baron Kawada
- Bringing new culture to the local community
- Danshaku potato croquette makes everyone a baron? 
- Ryokichi Kawada, love, letters, and blonde hair


THE DANSHAKU LOUNGE is located next to the Michi No Eki of Nanae-Cho

THE DANSHAKU LOUNGE” is a shopping complex with a museum, restaurant, shops which opened on April 25, 2019.

七飯町、国道5号線沿い、道の駅「なないろ・ななえ」の隣りに誕生した「男爵ラウンジ」▲“THE DANSHAKU LOUNGE” appeared next to Michi No Eki “Nanairo Nanae” along the National Route no.5 in Nanae-Cho.

First of all, the name “THE DANSHAKU LOUNGE” came from Baron Ryokichi Kawada, who first cultivated Danshaku potatoes
The museum in the facility exhibits resources about Baron Kawada.  

七飯町、国道5号線沿い、道の駅「なないろ・ななえ」の隣りに誕生した「男爵ラウンジ」内観▲The facility is spacious without pillars. 

七飯町、国道5号線沿い、道の駅「なないろ・ななえ」の隣りに誕生した「男爵ラウンジ」ミュージアムコーナー▲The museum area 
In the restaurant area, you can enjoy various grilled dishes, mainly meat dishes, using ingredients sourced from the neighborhood and within Hokkaido. The takeaway area offers croquettes and french fries using Danshaku potatoes. 

男爵ラウンジのレストラン▲The restaurant area

七飯町、国道5号線沿い、道の駅「なないろ・ななえ」の隣りに誕生した「男爵ラウンジ」テイクアウトコーナー▲The takeaway area 

The shop offers not only local souvenirs and crafts but also various products selected within Hokkaido and all over Japan. It is like a specialty store. 


Why did they establish THE DANSHAKU LOUNGE with a museum to exhibit items related to Baron Kawada, a restaurant, and shops here and now? 
I discovered a passionate story when I visited there. 


All comes from the respect towards Baron Kawada

Those people in the Hakodate area might have ring the bell from the word “DANSHAKU LOUNGE.” 
The associates of “HAKODATE DANSHAKU CLUB HOTEL & RESORTS” (the operating company is Danshaku Club), located three mins walk from JR Hakodate Station, DANSHAKU LOUNGE, Inc operates “THE DANSHAKU LOUNGE.” 

The name of the company, hotel, and the lounge has “Danshaku” (Baron) in it. Is there any meaning to it?  

男爵ラウンジ支配人、鍵谷孝之さん▲The manager of THE DANSHAKU LOUNGE, Takayuki Kagiya.  

“The father of our current chairman, Kimura, and Kawada family has a long term relationship. There is a history that Kimura succeeded the company which Ryokichi Kawada used to manage.”

The manager of THE DANSHAKU LOUNGE, Takayuki Kagiya, told me. 
“And it’s closed down for now, but we are also the company who operated the private museum called ‘Danshaku Museum’ in Hokuto City.” 
Baron Kawada dedicated to the reconstruction of Hakodate Dock which suffered from the recession in the Meiji Era imported large agricultural tools from the U.S. and contributed to the modernization of agriculture in Hokkaido. He also imported seed potatoes and improved breeds so that people can farm potatoes in weathers of Japan. He made great achievements for the development of Hokkaido. 
Baron Kawada had farms in Oshima-Tobetsu (current Hokuto City), but he cultivated seed potatoes in Nanai-Cho, so Nanai-Cho is said to be the birthplace of Danshaku Potatoes. 

七飯町鳴川の赤松街道に建つ「男爵薯発祥の地」記念碑▲The monument of “The birthplace of Danshaku Potatoes” is built along Akamatsu-Kaido in Narukawa, Nanai-Cho. 

男爵ラウンジの前にある男爵いもの街灯▲The Danshaku potatoes streetlight is in front of THE DANSHAKU LOUNGE. 

Kimura wanted to pass the achievements of Baron Kawada left in Hokkaido. He collected American agricultural tools, living goods, and other materials that Baron Kawada actually used and established a private museum “Danshaku Museum” in Hokuto City. 
Kimura, who had a strong relationship with Kawada family, passed down the characters and achievements of Baron Kawada and his contributions to Hokkaido to generations after generations. It was also passed down to the current president of the company. 
As time passed, Danshaku Museum closed in 2014 because the building became too old. At the same time, they started to make thought about things they could do in Nanai-Cho, the birthplace of Danshaku potatoes, to pass down the achievements of Baron Kawada. 

男爵ラウンジ支配人、鍵谷孝之さん▲“THE DANSHAKU LOUNGE” is full of respect towards Baron Kawada,” Kagiya says.  

“As we make thoughts, we discovered that the town was planning to invite nongovernment organizations to revitalize the town. We came up with the idea to make the town vital as we express the achievements of Baron Kawada at Nanae-Cho. And THE DANSHAKU LOUNGE was built after the investigations.” Kagiya told me. 


Bringing new culture to the local community

If they respect the father of Danshaku potatoes, do they offer things related to potatoes? Well, it’s not quite like that. 
They offer various products and foods from all over Hokkaido and Japan at the shop, not only things produced locally in Nanae-Cho. 
“We want local people to use this shop regularly. Also, by offering new things that people don’t often see in the neighborhood, I want people in Nanae to know about new cultures.” Kagiya tells the reason like that. 
男爵ラウンジの暖炉▲There was a free space in the center of THE DANSHAKU LOUNGE. They put a fireplace as people gather to places with a fire. 

男爵ラウンジの案内板▲I feel a sense that I can find something special here from this sign. 

男爵ラウンジで販売しているベビポタ▲I found Babypota which Hokkaido Likers has introduced! 

The number of items was about 400 when I visited in June 2019. They said that they make the number double after July. You might be able to encounter more discoveries now if you visit THE DANSHAKU LOUNGE. 


Danshaku potato croquette makes everyone a baron? 

When I entered inside, I noticed a smell of wood burning. I thought it came from the fireplace in the center, but it was actually from the restaurant. 
They use woods to grill meats, and the woods are apple trees from Nanae-Cho.  
“We can notice the smell of apples when we burn woods,” Kagiya says. 
And if you have a chance to stop by, I would like to recommend having this!  
スタッフの西家美咲さんが持っているのは、男爵いもコロッケ300円▲Misaki Nishiie, the staff of THE DANSHAKU LOUNGE” holds Danshaku potato croquette. 300 yen each.  

It’s a very delicious Danshaku croquette. But when you have a bite… 

スタッフの西家美咲さん▲A mustache appears! 

It makes you look like having a mustache just like a baron. 
Don’t you think it’s photogenic? 


Ryokichi Kawada, love, letters, and blonde hair

About Baron Kawada, you will be able to learn his characters and the significance of his achievements if you visit the museum. 

川田龍吉男爵▲Baron Ryokichi Kawada (1856-19651): He was born in Tosa (current Kochi Prefecture), went to England to study shipbuilding after graduating from Keio University. After he came back to Japan, he worked for Mitsubishi Engine Work, Nippon Yusen Kaisha, then inaugurated as the president of Yokohama Dock. He dedicated to the modernization of agriculture in Hokkaido after stepping down from the president. He died at his house in Oshima-Tobetsu (current Hokuto City) at the age 95. 
* THE DANSHAKU LOUNGE provided the picture. 

They relocated approximately 800 resources from “Danshaku Museum” which is closed now. There are still about the double amount of resources in Danshaku Museum. 

男爵ラウンジのミュージアムコーナー▲You can learn the history of Baron Kawada when you walk along the wall.  

All exhibitions, from large agricultural tools and small equipment for manual works, are actually used by Baron Kawada. I could feel how serious he was towards agriculture when I learned Baron Kawada imported everything by his private funds.


I want to take a note to the first automobile in Hokkaido “Locomobile.” Baron Kawada was the first Japanese automobile owner-driver, and it is said that he traveled from Hakodate to Hokuto City and Nanae-Cho by driving by himself. 
I imagine he liked new stuff as he imported large agricultural tools from the U.S. and bought Locomobile when the mainstream of the transportation was horses. 
男爵ラウンジにある北海道初の自動車、ロコモビル▲The first automobile in Hokkaido, Locomobile. It is designated as a machine heritage, “The oldest private automobile in Japan,”  from The Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers. 

And the best feature of the exhibition is love letters exchanged with his girlfriend Jeannie, who he met when he was studying in England.  

男爵ラウンジにあるジェニーからのラブレター▲All the papers above are the copies of love letters from Jeannie. There are 90 letters in total.  
It is said that a safety box was discovered after a few years from the death of Baron Kawada. They found love letters from Jeannie, and her blonde hair kept preciously in it. 

男爵ラウンジにあるラブレターと金髪が保管されていた金庫▲The safety box Baron Kawada kept love letters and blonde hair. 

It was very rare to see international marriages at that time. 
Baron Kawada could not persuade his father, and he marries to a Japanese bride. 
Baron Kawada would have never thought that love letters he kept preciously get exhibited like this. However, I can’t stop thinking that Kawada was quite a passionate person as he had a strong affection for Jeannie. 

男爵ラウンジにあるラブレター▲They have permission to make love letters public from a descendant of Baron Kawada. 

Other famous people from the history of Hokkaido who had an international marriage, would be the founder of Nikka Whisky, Taketsuru and Rita, who became the model of the TV show series. 
They could marry happily, but what happened to Baron Kawada? 
My imagination spread as I made thoughts.  
Hokkaido Likers became very interested in Baron Kawada, so I would like to cover about Baron Kawada in a different occasion. 
Look forward to it! 

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Takako Chiba