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

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

Discover where the first non-Japanese residents lived 100 years ago

  • 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 to the "outside world" in 1867. So about 27 hectares of settlements for people coming from outside Japan were created near the port where engineers from different countries 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 were designed by non-Japanese 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 rooms and bedrooms.

There used to be over 100 residences but most were destroyed during the war and now only about 20 are left.

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

“Kazamidori-no-Yakata” (Weathercock Mansion) was famous for its exterior bricks. It was built in 1909 by Thomas Godfried, a German trader, as his personal residence. The interior design is an attractive fusion of the traditional German style and Art Nouveau of the late 19th to early 20th century.

“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 there is a great view from the spacious balcony on the second floor that includes Kobe city in the distance.

  • * The information above is from the date of the review. Please be aware that some of the content may vary from the most recent information.
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