Old Warehouse-Turned-Multi-Purpose Facility with Library in Koshigaya Offers Unique Space for Socializing

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Kojiya Kura is built with concrete walls and a copper-tiled roof.

KOSHIGAYA, Saitama — In Koshigaya, Saitama Prefecture, not far from Koshigaya Station on the Tobu Isekai Line, along what was once the Nikko Kaido road, a number of old buildings can be seen.

The buildings, which were formerly merchants’ houses and warehouses, retain the Edo period (1603-1868) atmosphere of the city from when it prospered as a post station town.

Among them, Kojiya Kura is especially eye-catching. The former warehouse has a unique exterior, with ferro-concrete walls showing a long history and a roof thatched with verdigris-covered copper tiles.

A business producing and selling miso established in the late Edo period built the warehouse in the early years of the Showa era (1926-1989). However, after the miso maker shuttered its business in 1958, the warehouse remained vacant for about 60 years.

The citizens group Kyu-Nikko Kaido Koshigaya-shuku wo Kangaeru Kai (“Old Nikko Kaido road Koshigaya interest association”), which has made efforts to preserve the historical scenery around the former post station, plays a leading role in utilizing old buildings in Koshigaya.

In 2020, the former warehouse was refurbished into today’s structure, where a privately-run library and a cafe offering different services daily operates.

Visitors may initially be surprised by the very thick entrance door when visiting Kojiya Kura. The metallic door uses a dial lock of the kind also found on bank vaults, and bricks are apparently packed inside the door to make it highly fire safe.

These features help visitors understand the historic purpose of the building, which was to store valuables and account books.

About 1,200 books, including those for children, are stocked in the library on the first floor. The floor is furnished with wooden chairs for visitors to sit down and read for as long as they wish, free of charge. Visitors can also enjoy reading while sipping coffee bought from the neighboring cafe.

Michiko Toda, 57, brought books that were gathering dust at home to Kojiya Kura, and now runs the library and cafe.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Michiko Toda is seen at a private library with books she brought from her home.
Yomiuri Shimbun photos
Top: Miniature Chidori-uchiwa fans are hung as ornaments. Bottom: Many sets of Hina-ningyo dolls donated by locals are displayed on the second floor.

“This has become a place where strangers who come to read books begin chatting and interact,” she said.

The second floor is used as a multipurpose space, where classes for needlework and yoga are held.

The miniature Chidori-uchiwa fans displayed as ornaments are made by students of the classes. The fans are traditional craftworks produced in Koshigaya, and they create a refreshingly cool atmosphere.

Sets of Hina-ningyo dolls donated by local residents are also on display, giving the space an antique Japanese aesthetic.

“Old buildings have the power to make people feel nostalgic and draw them here. I want to use this building with care so that I can welcome in as many people as possible,” Toda said.


The Yomiuri Shimbun

Kojiya Kura

Address: 3-29 Koshigaya Honcho, Koshigaya, Saitama Prefecture

Access: 15-minute walk from the east exit of Koshigaya Station on the Tobu Isesaki Line

Hours: Privately-run library and cafe are open from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays. On the second and fourth Wednesdays every month, another owner operates the cafe from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.