Historic hotel in Takarazuka to be demolished

Takarazuka Hotel 1

Hankyu Hanshin Holdings plan to demolish the historic Takarazuka Hotel in Takarazuka City, Hyogo Prefecture, and will build a new hotel in a separate location nearby.

The 5-storey hotel opened in 1926. It was developed by Ichizo Kobayashi, the founder of Hankyu Railway, the Takarazuka Revue and Toho, and local industrialist Kaemon Hiratsuka. Hankyu acquired the hotel a few years after it opened.

Historic 84-year old apartment building in Chuo-ku under demolition

Images via http://blog.goo.ne.jp/asabata

The historic Shokin Apaato in Chuo-ku, Tokyo, is being demolished to make way for a 13-storey mixed-use office and residential building.

Shokin Apaato was built in 1931, around the same time as the Dojunkai apartments. The 5-storey, reinforced concrete building was occupied by tenants up until 2013. The owner decided to rebuild as the building does not meet earthquake-resistant standards and has become too costly to maintain.

99-year old residence in Kamakura opened to public for first time

Koga Residence Kamakura 3

A historic residence in Kamakura that was once the holiday home of former Prime Ministers Fumimaro Konoe (1891 – 1945) and Osachi Yamaguchi (1870 – 1931) has been repaired and converted into a French restaurant and wedding function centre. This historic, privately-held home had been closed to the public until now.

The Koga Residence was built in 1916 as a villa for Seijiro Sho (1862 – 1926), the managing director of Mitsubishi. In 1937 it was purchased by Mr. Koga, a manager of Nippon Tochi-Tatemono, and has been in the Koga family ever since.

89-year old bathhouse to close this month

Tsuki no yu bathhouse 2

One of Tokyo’s oldest wooden bath-houses will close its doors this month, and there are concerns that the 88-year old building could soon be demolished.

The Tsuki-no-Yu bath-house was built in 1927 in a ‘hafu’ curved gable style, which is often seen on temples and shrines. Mr. Yamada, the 70-year old owner, said his father purchased the bath-house in 1933 from its former owner.

Historic Yokohama building to be converted into shared office

Yokohama Kanto Local Finance Bureau

The historic former Kanto Local Finance Bureau building in downtown Yokohama will re-open in 2016 as a restaurant and shared office space after undergoing restoration and renovations.

The heritage listed property was built in 1928 and was originally the Yokohama ranch office of Nihon Menka – a raw cotton importer that is now Sojitz Corporation. It was temporarily confiscated by the US during the occupation in 1952, before being sold to the national government in 1954. From 1960 it was used as the Yokohama branch of the Ministry of Finance.  Yokohama City acquired the 4-storey concrete building in 2003.

In August 2014, Yokohama City started an appeal to find suitable uses for the building. The Yokohama DeNA BayStars baseball team were selected out of nine applicants to manage and operate the building.

Starbucks opens store in historic former home in Aomori

Starbucks Hirosaki Koenmae

On April 22, Starbucks will open a store in a heritage listed building in Hirosaki City, Aomori Prefecture. This is the first Starbucks store in the city, and the first Starbucks store to be located in a local government owned property.  Starbucks Japan operates over 1,000 stores across the country, including four in Aomori Prefecture.

The Hirosaki Koen-mae Store will open in a building that was built in 1917 as the official residence of the Commander of the 8th Division in the Imperial Japanese Army. It was designed by Hikosaburo Horie, the eldest son of Sakichi Horie who was a carpenter that worked on many of the western-style residences built in Aomori during the Meiji period.

Original Kanaya Hotel re-opened to public viewing

Kanaya Cottage Inn 1

After a careful restoration, the historic Kanaya Samurai House in Nikko was re-opened to the public from March 29th. The property forms a very significant part of Japan’s hotel industry as it was the very first western-style hotel in Japan.

The 2-storey wooden house was built in the 1640s as a samurai residence. In the late 1800s it was the residence of Zenichiro Kanaya. Mr. Kanaya was inspired to open up his home to foreign guests after hosting a foreign friend, , a Christian missionary who created the Hepburn romanisation system for Japanese. Mr. Hepburn saw the appeal of the Nikko area and the potential for foreign visitors, and suggested that Mr. Kanaya create accommodation catering to foreign tourists.

Mr. Kanaya made some alterations to the home and opened it up to guests as the Kanaya Cottage Inn in 1873. British traveler, writer and historian, , wrote about her stay at the inn in 1878 in her book ‘Unbeaten Tracks in Japan’, which further helped to promote the area and the hotel.

Nanzen-ji: Japan’s most expensive and exclusive residential area

Nanzenji Hekiunso

London has Kensington Palace Gardens, Hong Kong has Pollock’s Path and Monaco has Avenue Princesse Grace. Japan’s most expensive and most exclusive neighbourhood is not in Tokyo, but in the grounds of a temple in the historic former capital of Kyoto.

Nanzen-ji is a Zen Buddhist temple that was first established in 1291 by Emperor Kameyama on the site of one of his former palaces. During the anti-Buddhist movement at the beginning of the Meiji Restoration, Nanzen-ji’s grounds and sub temples were seized by the government, subdivided and sold off to private interests. Between the Meiji period and early Showa period, Japanese nobility began to build luxurious holiday homes with expansive and carefully designed Japanese gardens.

Competition amongst the elite was strong, with each one trying to build a bigger and grander villa than the other. Today, 15 of the original villas remain. Many of these villas are still owned by descendants of the original owners, or are held by some of Japan’s top companies and are not open to the public. These estates are worth as much as 100 million USD, but are so tightly held that, no matter how much money you may have, the area cannot be bought into at any price.

Iseya Pawnshop sold to University

Bunkyo Iseya Pawnshop 1

The owner of the historic Iseya Pawnshop in Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, signed a contract of sale with Atomi University on March 11. The price has not been disclosed, although some reports suggest it sold for around 130 million Yen (1.07 million USD).

The property includes a 2-storey warehouse dating from the 1850s ~ 1860s, a tatami room dating from 1890 and a shophouse dating from 1907. The pawnshop operated from 1860 to 1982, and was mentioned in author Ichiyo Higuchi’s writings. The three buildings were registered as Tangible Cultural Properties in 2003.

Hope for Kamakura’s modernist museum

Museum of Modern Art Kamakura

One of Japan’s exemplary models of modern architecture – the Museum of Modern Art, Kamakura & Hayama – now stands a chance at being saved from demolition after a recent structural analysis found that it could be reinforced against earthquakes.

The Kanagawa Prefectural Government are also in discussions with the landowner, the nearby Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu Shrine, to seek an extension to the land lease.

In late 2013, it was reported that the prefecture decided against renewing the lease due to the high costs of maintaining the buildings and the anticipated costs of retrofitting. The prefecture announced plans to close the museum at the end of March 2016. Under the terms of the lease, any buildings were required to be demolished before returning the land to the Shrine.

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