My Life in Japanese Art and Gardens: From Entrepreneur to Connoisseur

My Life in Japanese Art and Gardens: From Entrepreneur to Connoisseur

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True to my zodiac, I’m a reckless, charging, wild boar kind of man. Rushing ahead without looking right or left has often left me with honorable—or maybe not so honorable—scars on my shins and shoulders.”—Adachi Zenko

In his own words, Adachi Zenko (1899–1990) tells how a scrappy and impoverished boy from rural Japan turned the profits from his flair for daring and dealmaking into a world-class museum and garden. A poor student, bullied in school, the gregarious Adachi learned to seize on every opportunity that came his way. He began as a lowly coal hauler and, after a short stint in the military—aided by his ready, practiced smile—built a series of businesses in Osaka. Always the opportunist, during WWII he sold the army swords while buying up timberland for the expected postwar boom. He was a rice broker, a textile wholesaler, and a real estate man. He went to jail (unjustly). He had close friends who both loved and betrayed him.

In the end, Adachi always pursued his three unshakeable passions: art, women, and Japanese gardens. When he was seventy, he fulfilled a lifelong dream by founding the Adachi Museum of Art. With 500,000 visitors per year, today it boasts one of Japan’s best Nihonga and ceramics collections amidst a spectacular garden rated by Sukiya Living as “the finest in Japan.”

Lively, refreshingly frank, and full of insights into the uniquely Japanese pursuit of business and pleasure, this book presents a full-blooded portrait of a creative, vigorous entrepreneur.


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