Kobe to restore 82-year old town hall

Kobe Municipal Mikage Town Hall 1Kobe City will soon carry out earthquake-retrofitting work on the historic Kobe Municipal Mikage Town Hall. The hall will close in early 2016 and will reopen in 2017. Although it survived the 1995 Hanshin Earthquake, a building inspection in 2008 found that it did not meet current earthquake codes.

With the urging of local residents, the city plans to retain as much of the historic exterior and interior as possible. Retrofitting and repairs are expected to cost 1.597 billion Yen (13.2 million USD).

Introducing our Unique Spaces

For those interested in an architecturally designed property, or something a little older or unusual, we are launching a special section on our site called Unique Spaces.

This is a carefully curated selection of properties currently listed for sale that, in our eyes, are different from the cookie-cutter apartments or homes that make up the majority of the listings in Japan. Some of these one-of-a-kind listings include pre-war homes, modernist masterpieces, and contemporary designs. Some may have been designed by famous architects or may have historical importance. We hope this section of our website will be a place where these properties are appreciated and exhibited, and may attract new owners who want a special place of their own.

Our current selection includes homes by Shigeru Ban and Yoshimura Junzo, as well as apartments designed by Tadao Ando and SANAA.

Due to the various age of these properties, they are in various conditions and some may require repairs and maintenance in order to restore them to their prime. We can introduce our clients to specialist architects and consultants who can assist in restorations and renovations.

Click below to view the current listings:

Unique Spaces

Japan has some of the top architects in the world, yet, based on our experience, the supply of uniquely designed homes listed for re-sale is extremely limited. Such homes rarely change hands and there are very few opportunities to buy. Awareness and appreciation of the value of architect-designed homes is also lost over time and, to our dismay, little attention may be paid to the history of homes by some realtors.

Historic residence in Wakayama donated to city

Chapman Residence Shingu Wakayama 1

The owner of a historic home in Shingu City in Wakayama Prefecture, donated a 89-year old western-style house to the City.

Although the house was donated for free, the city agreed to pay approximately 18 million Yen (152,000 USD) for the 730 sqm block of land. The city plans to repair the home and open it to visitors. The total cost of the project, including the purchase price, was estimated at around 100 million Yen (843,000 USD).

The former Chapman Residence was built in 1926 for American missionary E.N. Chapman and his family. It was designed by architect Isaku Nishimura (1884-1963), the founder of the Bunka Gakuin School in Sumida-ku, Tokyo. Nishimura was born into a wealthy merchant family in Shingu City. His father, Yohei Oishi, was and elder of the Presbyterian Church and named Isaku after Isaac from the Old Testament.

Karuizawa to introduce blue plaque scheme for historic homes

Miyamaso Swiss Legation Karuizawa

In an effort to preserve the history of Karuizawa, the town will be introducing a blue plaque scheme similar to those used in the United Kingdom. The signs will be affixed to buildings and homes considered to be of historical importance to the resort town.

The town’s Board of Education has made a list of 100 important buildings, and, with the permission of the property owners, will affix plaques in the next year.

One of the shortlisted historic buildings is the Miyama-so Villa. Built in 1943 for a Japanese businessman, the house was later used as the Legation of Switzerland and was is said to be the place where a telegram was sent in 1945 declaring Japan’s acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration. The house was at risk of being demolished by a previous owner until the town acquired it in 2007 for 210 million Yen.

Historic Daimaru Shinsaibashi Store Facade to be Preserved

Daimaru Shinsaibashi Osaka

Last year, J. Front Retailing announced plans to redevelop the historic 82-year old Daimaru Shinsaibashi Department Store in Osaka. The ageing building was becoming increasingly cost and difficult to maintain, and was short on floor space.

Original redevelopment plans involved razing the building. After J. Front’s announcement, local architects and historians lobbied the company to preserve as much of the intricately-designed building as possible. Although redevelopment is going ahead next year, J. Front are now considering preserving the historic facade.

SMBC restores 89-yr old office building in Osaka

Sumitomo Building Osaka 3

On May 19, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) completed the restoration of the 89-year old building that houses their Osaka head office.

The Sumitomo Building was built in 1926 as the headquarters of Sumitomo Bank. The 6-storey building was constructed by Obayashi Corporation and had a total floor area of 36,000 sqm. It was designed by architects Yutaka Hidaka, Eikichi Hasebe and Kenzo Takekoshi of Sumitomo’s construction division. Construction took five years. During construction, the greater Tokyo area was struck by the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake. As a cautionary measure, the building’s proposed floor count was reduced by one storey. A spanish-style private courtyard was built on the top storey.

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.

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