Japanese Inn

Oliver Statler


The Japanese Inn is a book written by an American about a real inn called Minaguchi-ya. The author is from Illinois and he really liked the Inn so he wrote a book about it and it's long history. He made some of it up though but pretty much it's as true as is possible. He first came to the Inn in 1947 after America beat Japan in WWII. A Japanese Inn is a very nice place to stay. You get dinner and you sleep on these mats on the floor and they have these giant baths like mini swimming pools. Having stayed at one myself, they are quite relaxing.



The book takes you from when 1957 when the author is driving to the Inn all the way back to when the Inn was founded. It is just a long long long book about this Inn. It has lots about Japanese History and too many details. It's really hard to do a summary because there is no plot. The Inn just was passed on from generation to generation and changed with the times. The best thing to do is go by the chapter by chapter.



Chapter 1 - the inn is introduced

  • The author is driving on the Tokaido Road to the Japanese Inn, Minaguchi-ya.
  • You find out he has been coming here for 12 years ever since the American Occupation. That would be in WWII
  • He yaps on about how the inn is really old and is a part of the "real" Japanese history.
  • He talks about the scenery and how it is very much the same as it was in the past.
  • He talks about some myths: one being about the beach called Miho. Supposedly it was so beautiful an Angel came down to swim and some dirty fisherman stole her robe and wouldn't give it back unless she did some naked dancing for him. Porn is not a new thing obviously.
  • Then he finally arrives at the inn and is greeted by this maid in a Kimono (Japanese robe) and also by this guy named Yoshi and this lady named Isako who is the mistress of the inn.
  • He goes in, puts on some slippers (you don't wear shoes in a Japanese house), goes to his room and has tea and cakes.
  • Then Yoshi comes and says his bath is ready and Yoshi scrubs the guy's back and then the guy goes to bed.



First and second generations

Chapter 2 (1569-1582)- the inn is founded

Main characters:

Takeda Harunobu (Shingen) - chief of the mountain clan Takeda

Imagawa Yoshimotot - chief of the coastal clan Imagawa

Sessai Choro - Abbot of the Seikenji temple. Also the general in Imagawa's army and tutor to Ieyasu when he was young.

Tokugawa Ieyasu - chief of the Tokugawa clan

Mochizuki, A samurai (Japanese warrior) who is hired by Shingen and founds the Japanese Inn.

His son.

  • This chapter starts out with a battle (the battle of Okitsu) between Shingen and his clan against the coastal clan. Japan's central government wasn't crumbling and the clans were fighting a lot.
  • Shingen captured Okitsu and put Mochizuki in charge of Okitsu. He lived there with his family peacefully and made salt from the ocean.
  • Shingen was still trying to capture more land though but he got his ass killed one night. He heard this flute playing from the fort he was trying to capture and got a little too close to the wall and someone shot him in the head.
  • His son wasn't a very good leader and things started to fall apart for the Takeda Clan.
  • Mochizuki had to surrender his fort in Okitsu to this guy Ieyasu.
  • You find out all about Ieyasu and how he grew up. He had lived in Okitsu once for a while and studied at the Abbot there.
  • Then when he got older, he made a deal with Shingen to split up some provinces, and it was one of his forts that Shingen was trying to capture when he got shot.
  • So now, Ieyasu was kicking Shingen's son out and he burned down Mochuzuki's fort. Then he burned down the temple Seikenji he grew up in because it was in a strategic place on the road. Yeah, this guy was real nice.
  • So, now Mochizuki had no home and he no longer had any status as a samurai because you are only a samurai if you have a daimyo (a head of a clan like Shingen or Ieyasu) to fight for.
  • But, he was well respected in the town so he built a nice big house and people started to stop there when traveling through. This is the Japanese Inn.



Chapter 3 (1582-1605) Mochizuki is reluctantly pushed into innkeeping.

Main Characters:

Oda Nobunaga: Ally of Ieyasu who helps to unify Japan.

Toyotomi Hideyoshi: Chief of staff for Oda Nobunaga who betrays him and achieves the Unification of Japan.

Tokugawa Ieyasu: Our old buddy who takes over as leader of Japan from Hideyoshi.

Sen Rikyu: tea master to Hideyoshi…how exciting.

Mochizuki and his son again.

  • Mochizuki doesn't want to be an innkeeper, but when someone really important comes to town he has to let them stay in his nice rooms. I guess Mochizuki was ashamed because he used to be a warrior but now he was just a guy who had a nice house and had to kiss ass.
  • His son had other ideas and wanted to make the house into an Inn.
  • Then the author talks about how Nobunaga and Ieyasu were working together to unite Japan and then how Nobunaga's chief, Hideyoshi, did him in.
  • Then Ieyasu and Hideyoshi started to fight for power. But they realized it wasn't worth fighting and kept working towards uniting Japan.
  • Then it gets really boring here as you hear about Hideyoshi and the campaign to unite Japan.
  • There was one clan, the Hojos, who were holding out so Ieyasu was responsible to take care of them.
  • Mochizuki was responsible for getting the highway by his house cleaned up because the Ieyasu was going to be using it to attack the Hojos. Ieyasu also rebuilt the temple Seikenji.
  • Hideyoshi arrives now in the little town and he stays at the Temple Seikenji and all these people arrive in town and want to stay at Mochizuki's place.
  • Then you hear some stories about Hideyoshi and how he called this Tea Master to come to see him and the Tea Master was late because he was drinking Tea, so Hideyoshi broke his bamboo tea scoop.
  • Also, Hideyoshi thought the bell that rang in the Temple helped the enemy so he had it taken down.
  • Then, the Hojos lost and Japan was united. Ieyasu took over the Hojos land and started his capital in the city called Edo, which is now called Tokyo.
  • Then the villagers put the bell back in the temple. The bell still rings today. On New Years Eve it rings 108 times. Supposedly that is the number of sins of man. Japan has 108…. The West has 7.
  • Then Hideyoshi tried to go conquer China but he got his ass kicked by the Korean Navy that no one had expected. Hideyoshi ended up dying and Ieyasu was now in control. He was named Shogun (the military head of Japan).
  • Now the capitol was in Edo, everyone was flocking there so more people staying at Mochizuki's place.
  • Then Ieyasu retired and gave the Shogun position to his son. Mochizuki, who had surrendered to Ieyasu a while back, decided he should retire too and gave the house to his son. He didn't want it to be an inn and ignored the guests.


Chapter 4 -(1947 & 1605-1621) The author first goes to the inn

Main Characters:


Isako: Mistress of the Inn

Mochizuki Ryozo: Her father


Gen'emon: ancestor of Isako's family and a friend of Ieyasu

Ieyasu: We all know him now

Will Admas: First Englishman in Japan and a friend of Ieyasu and Mochizuki

Don Roderigo de Vivero y Vellasco: Shipwrecked Spanish governor of the Phillipines.

Mochizuki and his son: We all know them too.

  • The author talks about how he came over to Japan in April 1947.
  • General MacArthur was in charge of Japan and the soldiers were not allowed to really mix with the Japanese and all the restaurants and inns were off limit.
  • The author didn't like Army sponsored fun too much and he found out that the Minaguchi-ya (the Inn in this book) was now "on-limits" and so the author and his roommate decided to go.
  • So they hopped a train and went there. They were greeted very nicely by the Stationmaster of the Train station and by the staff of the Inn.
  • They bathed and ate and were treated real nice. Iasko got her father to come over because he spoke English.
  • Mr Mochizuki, Isako's father, is the guy who told the author about the history of the Inn. The current Mochizuki's were not related to the old Mochizuki's until Isako got married.
  • Then the book starts to talk about Gen'emon and the past again. Gen'emon was a commoner who was the head of a village and Ieyasu liked him because he was funny and down to earth.
  • One day Gen'emon had a pain in his scrotum (this is really in the book) and it had made it swell and Ieyasu thought it was funny and let the ladies he was with see it. In return for this, he told Gen'emon he could have all the land he could walk around in one day…so Gen'emon walked around despite his swollen scrotum and became rich.
  • Ieyasu was in retirement and hung out in the town Okitsu a lot. He was worried still about Hideyoshi's son becoming too strong. He also made peace with the Koreans.
  • Then there is all this boring stuff about people at the inn.
  • Then you hear about how Will Adams was the first westerner to stay at the Inn. Mochizuki liked him a lot and they always talked. Adams told Mochizuki about how he came to Japan and how he was sent in front of Ieyasu and they became friends.
  • The next few pages tell about the history of the first westerners in Japan and how that all turned out. The Spanish made the Japanese mad because they tried to force Christianity on them.
  • Then, Hideyoshi's son had grown up and was a threat to Ieyasu so Ieyasu went and killed him and his army.
  • Then Ieyasu died. Will Adams died too. Then Mochizuki died.
  • Then Mochizuki's son put up the sign Minaguchi-ya and officially made the house an Inn.



Fourth Generation

Chapter 5 (1651-today) the Inn is involved in a rebellion

Main Characters:

Yiu Shosetsu: rebel

Marubashi and Kato: Yiu's aides.

Priest Kakunen: served the rebels

Mochizuki: the 4th master of the inn.

  • This chapter starts out with a stormy night and three guys come into the Inn.
  • You find out one is Yiu Shosetsu and he is planning to overthrow the Tokugawas (Ieyasu's clan)
  • Then you find out all about how Shosetsu grew up and went to Edo.
  • There he became the right hand man of the Master of a Military School. He tricked some guy into killing the Master and then he killed the guy so he seemed like a Hero and he took control of the school.
  • He started to become more powerful and had many tough men and weapons at his command.
  • You find out that Ieyasu's grandson had just died leaving control to his 10-year-old son.
  • This is when Shosetsu started his plan and was confident it would work. Marubashi would kill the Shogun in Edo. Kato would kidnap the emperor in Kyoto. And Shosetsu would conquer the city between so he would control the roads and be able to move quickly.
  • What he didn't know was his buddy Marubashi had blown all his money on wine and women and was in debt and told his creditors he would pay them back after they took over the government. Bad mistake. The creditors told the authorities.
  • So, Shosetsu met up with some of his men in the city Shizuoka and the police met up with them too. Instead of being captured, Shosetsu and his men all killed themselves.
  • The police cracked down on all of the friends of Shosetsu and even hassled the Minaguchi-ya because they found out Shosetsu had stayed there.
  • The government thought Shosetsu was a Christian and they didn't like Christians so they cracked down on them. They kicked out all foreigners and tried to shut out the world.



Sixth and Seventh Generations

Chapter 6 (today and 1691) More about the Inn

This chapter talks about the old visitors of the Inn and all that. It's really boring.


Chapter 7 (1690s)

Main Characters:

Mochizuki Hanzo: head of the Inn

  • More stories from the Inn and about the world's oldest profession. Prostitutes.
  • They were illegal back then for a bit but finally each inn was allowed to have two "waitresses".
  • The Minaguchi-ya did not have prostitutes. They had pretty girls who sometimes fell for guests but they didn't offer women as a part of their continental breakfast package.
  • Then the story talks about a Samurai who gets ill at the Inn and a priest who tries to cure him.
  • The guy dies and the Inn has to deal with the body and all and it is a bad scene.


Chapter 8 (1690's) - more about the place around the Inn

This chapter talks about medicine shops around the Inn back in the old days. Nothing special.



Chapter 9 (1690's) -the happy pilgrims who traveled the Tokaido road

  • First of you learn about Honshiro, son of the current Inn master Hanzo.
  • Hanshiro is supposed to go in a pilgrimage to Ise. Kind of like going to Mecca I guess.
  • He has just been married. Japanese brides didn't talk much at the table and were expected to wait on their husbands completely. What a life.
  • His wife wants to go to Ise with him but she can't ask because she is a woman. Honshiro doesn't want her to come because he would have more fun without her.
  • On their wedding night he was thinking of a prostitute instead of his hot new wife.
  • So, Hanshiro went off on his pilgrimage and realized he missed his wife. He got back and was looking forward to getting on her when he found out she had run away with a member of the household.
  • She was eventually caught with the guy and executed for being an adulterer. Hanshiro was bitter because if he hadn't had been such an ass, he would have still had a wife.
  • Then there are more stories about pilgrims to Ise and all that.


Chapter 10 (1701-1703)

  • This chapter is about political intrigue. To sum it up shortly. This guy stabbed another guy in court because he was mad. He was therefore punished for that and it was expected that his family possessions be given up…mainly a castle. His family said no…and there was a big fight. Finally, they were caught and nobody wanted them to die because they were just defending their land but they were killed.


Fifteenth and Sixteenth Generations

Chapter 11 (1842)

  • This artist Hiroshige who is one of Japan's greatest artists stops at the Minaguchi-ya Inn.
  • The chapter talks about his life.
  • The head of the Inn Genzaemon died and his younger brother, Raisuke, took over.


Chapter 12 (1820-1893)

  • Raisuke is now married to his brother's widow and own the Inn.
  • Isako's grandmother was being carried by these servants in this palanquin (kind of like a box with curtains)
  • The old lady was kind of mean and the servants were talking about dumping her off a cliff.
  • Then this other guy in a palanquin behind her just looked at the servants and they all got sacred and behaved.
  • The guy was Jirocho of Shimizu. He was the big Boss of the road and made everything safe. He was kind of like the Robin Hood of the area.
  • The chapter tells a lot of the details of his life and how he was imprisoned.
  • Also, Hanjuro, the new head of the Minaguchi-ya had decided that the Inn should now start accepting common guests and treating them just like they were noble. He set up a guild, the Prestige Guild, and got all these other inns to join and adhere to his standards: clean, no prostitutes, and good service.
  • A fire destroyed all of the old records.
  • Then Jirocho died and was made into a Shinto God because the people loved him so much.


Eighteenth Generation

Chapter 13 (1889-1940) The Inn becomes even more modern

  • There was now a railroad that went to Okitsu but times were bad for inns. Many shut.
  • Hanjuro was old and didn't have a son to take over the Inn.
  • He married his daughter to this son of a rich land owner. The guy married the daughter and took off for weeks on their wedding night. Then he came back all dirty and didn't even explain where had been.
  • His wife was not allowed to ask.
  • The guy called himself Hanjuro II and was a good innkeeper.
  • Hanjuro II dies and a staff takes over under this guy Prince Saionji.


Twentieth Generation

Chapter 14 (1940 - 1957)

  • The Inn survives the war and occupation.
  • A lot of Americans went there to sample Japanese life.
  • Americans were not always the best guests and broke lots of things.
  • The Inn had gone through many changes. Once a house that entertained, it was now an Inn that relied on guests to survive.


Chapter 15 (1957) the Emperor and Empress honor the inn

  • The Emperor and Empress visit the Inn.
  • Everyone worked real hard to make sure it was a great stay because it was such an honor.



  • Not a lot of critical thought in this book. Not many ideas to discuss.
  • Basically, it's a look at Japanese culture and Hospitality.
  • The Japanese are very big into Hospitality.
  • The people are very traditional and being kind to guests and serving them a certain way is part of those traditions.
  • Westerners are often surprised because the Japanese are very nice and are willing to go out of their way to be kind to guests.
  • The Japanese can also be very cruel in their policies in war and national pride, but so is every other country who has ever been to war.
  • Woman have always been second in Japanese culture. You can see that by the roles of the women in this book. It got better as you see Isako running the inn by herself in modern times.