Introduction to TAKATAYA Kachi
TAKATAYA Kachi (January 1st,1769 to April 30th,1824 Japanese calendar) was a Japanese merchant. He was born to a farming family on Awaji Island. He left his birthplace when was 13, to work in Kobe as a sailor. He set up a kitamaebune trading ship business with his brothers. He exported goods such as cotton, clothing, sake, salt and other staples from Osaka to Ezo (now Hokkaidō and the south Kurile islands) and imported goods such as herring, salmon, sea cabbage (kelp) to Honshū. Dry herring were in huge demand as fertilizer for commercial crop like cottons, but not edible.
Later, he opened new trading sea routes from Kunashir island to Iturup island and operated many fisheries around several parts of Ezo. TAKATAYA Kachi is also known for his services in transforming Hakodate in a thriving city. He repaired streets, reclaimed lands and forested trees for lumber. He built a shipbuilding business in Hakodate. After a destructive fire in 1806, he provided money, food, and clothing for victims of the disaster.
He acquired a status as one of the most famous merchants in the era for his role in the Golovnin Incident. In 1812, off Kunashir island, TAKATAYA Kachi and five members of his crew were captured by Petr RICORD, captain of the Russian navy sloop in retaliation for the Japanese capture of Russian naval officer Vasilii GOLOVNIN a year earlier.
Kachi was taken to Kamchatka for several months, but he took the opportunities as a good chance, overcoming a wall of languages. He worked successfully to have Golovnin released between Russia and Japan. In his book ”Negotiation with Japanese”, Ricord praises Kachi as follows.
There are, indeed, in Japan, MEN who deserve that name in the highest sense of the word.
At the age of 50, Kachi returned to his birthplace of Awaji Island. He died in 1827.