Although Yoshihiro Takishita spent 18 months looking for land on which to place a house, he had his reward. The site he found is superlative, on a Kamakura hilltop surrounded by countryside and overlooking an expanse of sea. The unusual part is that he had already bought the house, "one with big columns and curved beams, a peaceful and honest dwelling, atmospheric with the lingering smell of an old farmhouse," had it dismantled and stored, and was impatient to reassemble it. The story of the house is the first chapter in the saga of The House of Antiques.

Takishita was a boy in Gifu Prefecture. His village deep in the mountains gave him a birthright feeling for the old and the genuine. He said, "I remember running around the village, playing around the rice paddies and along the riverbanks. The mountains were covered by snow in the winter, and were beautiful. Today, gosh, it's terrible, with highways and new houses and no native style left."

He came to Tokyo to enter Waseda University, where he studied law. He had the good fortune to meet John Roderick, an authority on China and a well-known Associated Press reporter and bureau chief. "Three months after I met him, I took him to Gifu. My parents liked him very much from the very first minute. John adopted me as his 'son,' " Takishita said.