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Chilled Treats from the North: Ginza’s Fabled Shop Hakodateya

In the first years of the Meiji era (1868–1912), there was a store in Tokyo’s Ginza district famed for its chilled treats, including fresh ice water and ice cream. In a conversation between writers Tsutsui Tomomi and Arashiyama Kōzaburō, published in the February 2019 issue of Ginza Hyakuten (a local magazine published by the Ginza Hyakuten Organization), Tsutsui revealed that her uncle, well-known actor Shin Kinzō, was the grandson of the store’s founder. The name of the store was the Hakodateya.

Tsutsui Tomomi in the February 2019 issues of Ginza Hyakuten. (Courtesy the Ginza Hyakuten Organization)

In this installment of this series, I would like to take a closer look at the Hakodateya’s history. The below account is based on Tsutsui’s comments, with additional information from Uchida Roan’s Ginza hanjōki (A Record of Ginza’s Flourishing) and Yamamoto Shōgetsu’s Meiji sesō hyakuwa (A Hundred Tales of Meiji Society).

The Hakodateya was established by Shin Taizō, a former samurai of the Owari Domain in central Japan. During the Boshin Civil War of 1868 to 1869, a conflict that pitted the shogunate against forces supporting the newly crowned Emperor Meiji, Shin led shogunal forces at Hakodate’s Goryōkaku Fort under Admiral Enomoto Takeaki. He took a bullet in the lower back, but escaped with his life by hiding in a civilian home.

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