Hankyu Hanshin Hotels, part of Hankyu Hanshin Holdings, will close the historic 86-year old Rokkosan Hotel in Kobe on December 20. Hotel operations will continue in the newer 45-room main building located next door.
The original hotel was opened in 1929 as an annex to the Takarazuka Hotel, before later operating as an independent hotel. It was designed by architect Masaharu Furuzuka, one of the Osaka-Kobe area’s leading modernist architects. Furuzuka also designed the Takarazuka Hotel in 1926.
The 2-storey wood-frame building has 25 guest rooms and a cafe/restaurant.
In 2007 it received a national designation as a Heritage of Industrial Modernization property. It is recognised as a leading example of the pre-war modernist architecture in the Osaka-Kobe region. Nevertheless, ageing and deteriorating equipment and a structure that does not meet current earthquake-resistance standards have been cited as reasons for the hotel’s closure. Hankyu had explored possible solutions to the structural issues, but it was determined that additional reinforcements would prove exceedingly difficult. The future of the building has yet to be decided.
Earlier this year it was announced that Hankyu Hanshin plan to demolish the 89-year old Takarazuka Hotel and replace it with an apartment building [see: Historic hotel in Takarazuka to be demolished, June 4, 2015].
The Rokkosan area is the mountainous area running from Kobe to Takarazuka. In the late 1800s and early 1900s the mountains became popular as a resort area with a number of foreigners building holiday villas. Various mountain roads are named after some of the early foreign residents. The nearby Kobe Golf Club, which was opened in 1903 by English expat Arthur Hasketh Groom, was Japan’s first golf course.
In the early 1900s, rival railroad companies Hanshin-Kyuko Electric Railway (now Hankyu Corporation) and Hanshin Electric Railway competed fiercely to develop the area. Hankyu were the first to open a hotel in Rokkosan with the Rokkosan Hotel in 1929. In 1931 they opened a ropeway. Not to be outdone, Hanshin opened the Rokko Cable Line one year later, followed by the Rokko Oriental Hotel in 1934. The Rokko Oriental Hotel, which had been rebuilt in 1968, closed its doors in 2007 and sits empty and overgrown.
Source: The Kobe Shimbun, November 30, 2015.