Jiro Osaragi

Jiro Osaragi was the pen name of a famous Japanese writer who spent a great deal of his life in Kamakura. The surname ‘Osaragi’  actually uses the same Japanese characters for ‘daibutsu’ as Osaragi lived behind the Daibutsu (Big Buddha) in Hase for many years.  It was here that he wrote his first of many  historical novels ‘Hayabusa no Genji’ ( The Falcon Genji) .

As most of Osaragi’s novels were first serialized in newspapers and magazines, he became extremely popular with the masses, and a literary icon of his times.  Most of his historical novels were later made into films and television series as well, and in many cases Osaragi wrote the screenplays.  Although he received critical acclaim for his novel ‘Kikyo’ (Homecoming), Osaragi is probably most loved for ‘The Loyal Retainers of Ako’, his entertaining retelling of the famous forty-seven samurai story.

Osaragi was quite a dandy in his youth, and is also remembered as a great cat-lover.  He himself estimated that during his lifetime, including strays, he had cared for close to 500 cats.  At the time of his death, there were no fewer than 15 cats living at his final home in Yuki no Shita.  Osaragi was also instrumental in preserving the historical beauty of Kamakura by joining with other artists in the area to oppose unsightly modernization while championing the preservation of historically significant structures. This movement became the catalyst for the formation of the Japan National Trust.

Although a museum for Osaragi is located in nearby Yokohama, visitors to Kamakura can visit his house with its charming garden, and imagine the writer busy at work on the terrace. The abode now serves as a teahouse, so guests can enjoy the terrace and the view while having a drink or snack.

Unfortunately, Ocharo (Tea Corridor) is only open on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays from noon until dark.  The prices are also a bit expensive, but this ensures a tranquility that allows guests to savor the experience.

Ocharo Official Website (in Japanese)

 Address: Yuki no Shita 1-11-22 Map