Omura Hikotaro

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  • Born: 1636
  • Died: 1689
  • Other Names: 白木屋彦太郎 (Shirokiya Hikotarou)
  • Japanese: 大村彦太郎 (Oomura Hikotarou)

Ômura Hikotarô was the founder of Shirokiya, a lumber, textiles, sundries, and dry goods store which survives today as a modern department store.

He was born in Nagahama, in Ômi province, in 1636. After the death of his father Dôyo (道与), he and his brother Saburô were raised within their mother's family, but by the age of 17 or 18, Hikotarô was already running a lumber store in Kyoto. In addition to lumber, he sold a number of other goods, including brocade fabrics; he called his shop "Shirokiya" (lit. "white wood shop") and as a result, came to be known himself as Shirokiya Hikotarô.

In 1662, Hikotarô opened a sundries store on Nihonbashi-dôri in Edo. For about 20 years, he worked to ensure the financial security of his children, heirs to his business, by expanding the business. He began dealing more in fabrics and garments, becoming a "dry goods" store.

Hikotarô died in 1689, but his business lived on, eventually developing into a major modern department store chain in Japan. In the late 1990s to early 2000s, all the Shirokiya locations in Japan closed, but one Shirokiya department store in Honolulu, Hawaii remains active. In 2012, the Honolulu Shirokiya store is celebrating the 350th anniversary of the establishment of the original Nihonbashi location.


  • "Ômura Hikotarô" 大村彦太郎. Gôshô hyakunin 豪商百人. Bessatsu Taiyô 別冊太陽. Winter 1976. p52.