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Shaw Memorial Chapel

Simple yet functional is the Karuizawa style

Today, Karuizawa is one of Japan's most popular summer resort areas, situated at the foot of Mt. Asama. But amazingly, nobody realized how beautiful it was until around 130 years ago.

In 1885, an Anglican missionary, Alexander Croft Shaw (1846-1902), passed through Karuizawa and found it to be a fine summer retreat. Soon he had a cottage built to enjoy the comfortable highland breeze; a wonderful escape from the hot, humid, Tokyo weather. His cottage was simple, yet functional. Its most noteworthy point was that it was not blocked from the street in any way. It was open and welcoming. Shaw tried to develop a good relationship with the locals. Shaw Memorial Chapel and Shaw Memorial House show this, and so way of building became the most common style in the town.

Shaw was the first foreigner to build a summer cottage in Karuizawa. He fell in love with the beautiful highlands and started to bring his family here from Tokyo in 1886. They enjoyed long summer vacations every year here from then on. He told everybody who would listen that Karuizawa was a beautiful town and that its mild climate extremely comfortable in summer. At first, foreign residents of Tokyo joined him. And then Japanese noble people, high-ranking politicians, and business executives came and began to spend their summers here, as well.

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Karuizawa Shaw Memorial Chapel

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