In 1689, when Nagasaki’s trade with China was at its peak, a number of residences were built in Kannaimachi to house the roughly 10,000 Chinese people who had stopped in (and eventually settled in) Japan from China. The bond between the Chinese people and Nagasaki residents grew stronger, and the dragon dances and Chinese dishes were passed on to the locals. Tototei is situated in Juninmachi, a town next to the quiet residential area of Kannaimachi. Around 1949, the late Meiji-era structure constructed in a Japanese-style was acquired and opened as “Chinese Restaurant Tototei.”
History of architecture
The Tototei building was constructed in 1908 as a residence for the Aota family, who were traders at the time. Even in Nagasaki, where there are many old structures and long-standing businesses, buildings that are more than 100 years old are rare. The Tototei building was selected as a recipient for the “Nagasaki Cityscape Awards, Encouraging Prize.” This venerable Japanese-style building continues to make its presence felt in the ever-changing cityscape. The sequence in which the entranceway appears when one follows the stepping stones set into the jumbled cobblestones, and the high degree of perfection in the alcove and transoms are truly indicative of the architecture of a wealthy merchant family residence of the time.
Unique Wakaran culture
Nagasaki flourished as a center of Japanese trade during the Edo period. It was here that the Wakaran culture was born. “Wa” refers to Japan, “Ka” refers to China, and “Ran” refers to the Netherlands or Western cultures. During this period of isolation, only China and the Netherlands were allowed by the Shogunate to trade with Japan, and many foreign items, such as sugar and glasswork (precious goods at the time), entered Nagasaki. One of the outcomes of the trade interaction with China and the Netherlands was Shippoku Chuka, which wowed many gourmets visiting the Chinese restaurant Tototei. The city of Nagasaki is still home to many of the foods and traditions that developed from the Wakaran culture.