Historic Shimoda Ice Factory to be demolished

The Nanzu Ice Factory in Shimoda City is scheduled to be torn down this month due to deterioration and concerns over its earthquake-resistance.

The factory was built in 1923 (Taisho 12) from locally quarried Izu stone. It is ‘registered’ as a Tangible Cultural Property. There are two types of Tangible Cultural Property listings – ‘designated’ and ‘registered’. Those properties that are ‘designated’ have higher levels of protection as government restrictions are imposed on any alterations and repairs. Owners may also receive subsidies and financial support for repairs and maintenance.

Properties that are ‘registered’ have a lower level of protection. The owner also faces less responsibilities, but is still eligible for certain subsidies and low interest loans for maintenance and repairs. Any changes to the property require the owner to inform authorities, but they cannot be forced to preserve the structure.

The factory has deteriorated rapidly following the Tohoku earthquake last year and is at risk of collapse. Reinforcing the structure would involve a huge sum of money, of which the owner cannot bear.

Local residents are upset over losing one of the remaining assets left behind by the town’s pioneers.

The factory was purposely located alongside Inozawa River in Shimoda to supply ice to boats that would travel up the river from the port. In March 2004, it closed down after over 80 years of operations. After its closure, citizens began a movement to preserve the structure. However, the property was acquired by the city’s Retailers Union who had plans to knock it down and turn it into a carpark. Residents formed a plan to purchase the building, but were unable to raise enough funds and gave up on the acquisition in 2005. The city had also planned to purchase the building, but their poor financial situation meant that they were also unable to buy the property.

Last year’s earthquake caused new cracks to appear in the building. It was estimated that repairs and reinforcing work would cost 140 million Yen (1.8 million USD). The current owner is unable to pay for the repairs, and informed the Board of Education of their plans for demolition.

*Update: The factory is scheduled to be demolished in January 2014.

Source: The Chunichi Shimbun, August 16, 2012.