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北野異人館街Kobe Kitano Museum (Ijinkan-gai)

  • Walk around (Other Walks / City Walking)
  • Around Kobe
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Around Kobe
Kitanocho, Chuo-ku Kobe-shi, Hyogo 650-0002, Japan
  • Walk around (Other Walks / City Walking)
Date of post:2015/06/18

Come and feel the atmosphere of “étrangere”

  • City Walking

Kitano Ijinkan Residences are wooden Western-style homes mostly built between 1888 and 1926.

After the Japan-US Treaty of Amity and Commerce was concluded in 1858, the Port of Kobe was officially opened in 1867. So about 27 hectares of settlements for foreigners were created near the port where foreign engineers started to build the Western merchant establishments. However, after 1887, the early western settlers became financially secure and moved up on the nearby hill to build their own stylish homes with nice views. This is why Kitano Ijinkan Residences started to develop as a new residential area. Now we can see some of Ijinkan from those days on Yamamoto Street in Kitano-cho.

Most residences are designed by foreign architects represented by A.N. Hansel in England and G.D. Lalande in Germany. Although most buildings at the original settlement are both residential and commercial areas, the newly built area was dedicated for dwelling houses including elaborate living and bed rooms.

There used to be over 100 foreign residences but after suffering through wars, so only about 20 are now left.

For example, at first, “House of Uroko” famous for slates similar to the scales that cover the outer body of fish. Its exterior looks like a castle and it is the first to open the public as a symbol of this town.

Secondly, “Kazamidori-no-Yakata” (Weathercock Mansion) was famous for brick exterior. It was built in 1909 by Mr. Godfried Thomas, a German trader, as his personal residence. With its red-brown brock color and the front porch’s stone masonry, the house exudes a stately atmosphere. The interior design is an attractive fusion of the traditional German style and Art Nouveau of the late 19th to early 20th century.

Thirdly, “Moegi House” (Light Green House) was surrounded by tall camphor trees. It was built in 1903 as a home for Mr. Hunter Sharp, a former US Consul General. There are two unique bay windows, a staircase with arabesque pattering, and a beautiful mantelpiece. And you can see a great view from the spacious balcony on the second floor that includes Kobe city in the distance.

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