OLD MANSION、RELAXING TEAHOUSE--1950s 'retro' atmosphere in Shimada
Caption：Shelley Clarke (third from right) in a 1950's 'retro' atmosphere teahouse that she recreated with local people. Behind the teahouse is the Sasama mansion.
In the Sasama area of Shimada city, in a old mansion that she is restoring, American Shelley Clarke (55) in September opened "Firefly Teahouse" in one of the restored buildings. In her arduous efforts to revive the huge mansion and its surrounding buildings she's also opened a bed and breakfast inviting guests to the relaxing mountain village. Shelley lives in the mansion of the former Okamura family who once ruled the village according to documents found in the house that date to 1602. The main house was constructed in the 1950s and along with other cottages and storehouses there are 10 buildings on the property. The teahouse has been constructed in one of them with two 8 tatami-mat rooms. While maintaining some of the iron decorative features of the building, there's been a major renovation to create a counter where there once was a storage area. "The theme is 1950s nostalgia" said Shelley, and she's using dishware that was hidden away in the storehouses, as well as retro light fixtures she's purchased. Add to that operations involving local residents, and serving local tea, coffee and muffins they've created a relaxing atmosphere. A fisheries scientist, Shelley moved to the area 15 years ago when the village caught her eye. Buying the mansion after the owner passed away four years ago, the repairs have proceeded gradually. Despite the corona virus, through word of mouth the bed and breakfast has been attracting guests from within and outside the prefecture. Hiroko Sawamoto (73) who is helping to run the teahouse said "Its because of Shelley's personality that people are spurred to come here". The look of the mansion, and the history and charm of Sasama are conveyed by a website created by Shelley who states "I want people to see this area as a local treasure". Firefly Teahouse is open from 10am-4pm Saturdays.