Pages

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Old mercantile buildings on the Kaigan-dori Street, Kobe



Large old mercantile buildings on Kobe Kaigan-dori Street of Route 2 
Effect of "impressive art"


Sometime in late 1800's or early 1900's, image via here
神戸旧居留地, Former Foreign Settlement of Kobe, was established as a place where foreigners (not all the foreigners but Europeans and Americans at first) could live and trade when the Port of Kobe opened according to the Ansei Treaties of Amity and Commerce (1858) concluded with the United States, Great Britain, Russia, Netherlands, and France, after long national isolation.

The settlement was designed by British civil engineers. 126 blocks in the district were sold to Western foreigners at auction. (The remaining building number is the block number.) The district spreads at the seaside between the east "Flower Road" and the west "Meriken Road".   The current traffic road was a sandy beach back then.

After the foreign settlement was returned back to Japanese government in 1899, Japanese businessmen also used this district and it became the business center of Kobe.

 With the start of World War II, most of the foreigners went back to their countries.  In 1945, about 70 percent of the buildings in this settlement were destroyed by air raids.

After the war, modern buildings were built while the remaining original buildings got older.  Until 1980’s, the district was simply old office streets with aged buildings, but in the late 1980’s civil movement to preserve the district got active, and besides, under the leadership of Daimaru Department Store, the mentality of the building owners changed to be conscious about “town-scape”, preserving dotted historical buildings to make a comprehensive nice and beautiful area.

In 1992, the district was designated as one of the top 100 beautiful city-scape in Japan. It is said to be one of the successful examples about the collaboration of civil movement and commercial capital.

After 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake which collapsed more than 20 old buildings in this district, Kobe City government got involved actively in the restoration. The streets are protected not only through preservation but also with the understanding of how the landscape could be developed through the construction of new buildings. 


 Collapsed No. 15 Building, old American Consulate (1880), image via here

Reconstructed No. 15 Building, image via here
The building above, which was originally built in 1880 to house American Consulate, is the only building left from the Old Settlement days and is designated as an Important Cultural Property. It was destroyed completely during the 1995 earthquake, but was subsequently rebuilt using as much of the original materials as possible. It is used as a restaurant on the first floor and a cafe upstairs. I like it when historical assets are reused actively for practical various uses not only as museums. 




Let's see some of the European style buildings on the Kaigan-dori Street.  Shosen-Mitsui Building built in 1922 would be the most impressive and magnificent building. It is one of the most representative retro architectures with meticulous relief carving, beautiful vertical lines like carved pillars, and stately masonry at the lower part. With reinforcement and partly renovation, it is used by Daimaru to display furniture and interior goods in a large scale. 


Front entrance of Shosen-Mitsui Building
other entrance

Next to the  Shosen-Mitsui Building (right) is Kaigan Building (left).   It is a modern fifteen-story building including four-story classic building at the lower part.




This block used to be occupied by Kobe Branch of Mitsui-Bussan Co.  The original building collapsed in 1995 Hanshin Earthquake and was reconstructed as an office building of which 1-4 floor was reconstructed in original style, using the original materials found in debris as much as possible.  

Original door
Tofu and Yuba Restaurant


Across the street from Kaigan Building is former Kobe Branch of Nihon Yusen Co.  After the first American Consulate moved to the other place, the building of former Nihon-Yusen Co. was built in 1918.  It survived the earthquake because of the improved earthquake-resistance finished one year before.  Grand Back for big and tall men carries on business there currently.







I wonder if this is Frank Lloyd Wright door?


Right across the Kaigan-dori Street from the Grand Back is Meriken Pier.  

Walking around this district reminds me of the history of this city. This is the place where foreigners tried to make their dream come true by trade and commerce after sailing across the Pacific to the far-east Japan.  And besides, this city's history is a symbol of phoenix rising up.  After the devastation of the war and another devastation by the earthquake fifty years later, Kobe City resurrected like a phoenix and is constantly evolving.

Two-tired Hanshin Expressway, Kaigan-dori Street, Former Foreign Settlement seen from Meriken Pier


31 comments:

  1. The old merchants' houses. A real tidbit building. Without any landmarks the world would be very poor. It is well if these buildings to maintain. You have a nice chat about this area.
    I wish you a nice day.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Świetnie łączy się historia z nowoczesnością. Wspaniale, że Twój kraj dba o historię i w przypadku nieszczęść ( trzęsienia ziemi) odbudowuje stare budynki. Pozdrawiam.
    Great combines history with modernity. It is great that your country cares about the story and if calamities (earthquakes) restores old buildings. Yours.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm happy your are back on stage, Yoko! ;-)
    I hope your turn of the year was predominantly pleasant!

    I'm sure your heart clings to the city of Kobe, as far as I remember the location of your birth and youth. But during the great earthquake you already lived in Nara? Was Nara affected by the 1995 earthquake, too? It was certainly a cut deep in your mind seeing your home city severly destroyed by the earthquake. In 2013/2014 it looks like nothing has happened in the past. Like a phoenix from the ashes Kobe refaced its city facade and moderized itself, without forgetting the ancient times and their buildings.
    What do you think, Yoko, would the Grand-Back clothing store the right place for an European like me to buy his clothes and suits in Japan? Or am I still "too small" for the offered clothes there?

    Take care and have a great week, dear friend!

    Uwe.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I left Kobe in 1975 when I got married. In 1995, I was in Nara and felt very strong tremors. I was so shocked to have learned outrageously strong earthquake struck Kobe. Soon later I was watching burning Kobe on TV with dismay. One month later when I visited Kobe, I couldn’t believe my eyes to see collapsed highways, houses, stations, fallen utility poles, and so on. Now I’m happy with the revived Kobe while I’m sad as many familiar places are gone.

      Many foreign people from various different countries live in Kobe. Especially Europeans and North Americans would be customers to Grand Back but I’m not sure if you’re too small or not for the offered clothes. Why don't you try when you come to Japan next time?

      Delete
  4. Beautiful pictures for an interesting post ! I love old buildings...
    Have a nice day !
    Anna

    ReplyDelete
  5. Here's another excursus into the histiry of Japan, thank you, Yoko. You make it interesting for your multinational readers. These buildings in Kaigan-dori Street reminded of the Bund in Shanghai city. It is a curious mix - the Riverside Promenade: on the one side there’s the Bund with gorgeous buildings of various Western styles and on the opposite – Pudong skyscrapers and Oriental Pearl Tower. I thought then there’re few places in the world where you can see architectural evolution in the flesh. Now, owing to your stories about Japan the number of such places has incresed for me.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I enjoyed reading about the rich history of the area. The original wooden door that might have seemed ordinary when first constructed is now a treasure that stands out among the rest. There are so many lovely architectural features there that were preserved or rebuilt. I can almost hear the hustle and bustle of activity throughout the decades as alliances, too, were forged and restored.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Dear Yoko - Japan is an amazing country the way it picks itself up after disasters and calamities and starts all over again. However, it is lovely the way the spirit of the old buildings continues to live within the new.
    The two-tired Hanshin Expressway is very impressive.
    I don't know whether the door is by Frank Lloyd Wright - I know that he designed the Arinobu Fukuhara House at Hakone, which was sadly destroyed in the Great Kantō Earthquake of 1923, and also the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo which survived the Great Kantō Earthquake but apparently was demolished in 1968 to make way for urban development.

    ReplyDelete
  8. you show it beautifully. i can imagine the history that was lost through war and earthquake. i am glad they were able to preserve and rebuild some of it.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hello Yoko, What a grand tour you've provided of the mercantile and pier areas of Kobe. The architecture is amazing - I like the blend of old and new. The shops look very posh! I like when historic buildings are restored and repurposed. Lovely to walk there with you!

    ReplyDelete
  10. What lovely shots and great architecture. Nice to see the building restored too.

    ReplyDelete
  11. This kind of architecture is all over Europe, in all the big cities.
    I do not want to hurt your feelings, but I like Japanese architecture better.
    True, there are aspects of the European buildings which are very attractive, windows, gates, decorations on facades, but the large scale stone edifices have very little grace. At least that’s what I think.

    At the same time I must say, that it is good to restore old buildings. History is always important.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, I’m pleased to know you like wooden Japanese architectures better like me. Stone or concrete structures don’t fit to Japanese climate especially muggy summer. I think it’s amazing that ancient five-storied pagoda have survived thanks to the ancient technology in this earthquake-prone country while many Western style building collapsed. There are so many old Japanese architectures from 8th century to 17th century. The European style buildings from late19th to early 20th century are rare and worth preserving. Japanese people like Kobe for its exotic atmosphere, the blend of Western, Chinese or Indian culture.

      Delete
  12. I love your post about Kobe. Truly you give us an insiders look at this city. My favorite photo is of the door with the "Frank Lloyd Wright" possibilities. Happy New Year to you!

    ReplyDelete
  13. What a fascinating tour you have taken us on, dear Yoko. I love the architecture and the details, also the fact that protection is accomplished not only through preservation but also keeping the landscape in mind. No wonder, Japan is rich - rich historically as well aesthetically and it appeals to the senses -- in all ways possible. The last night shot is splendid!

    Wish you a wonderful week ahead! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  14. 古い洋風建物を大事にしている横浜のように美しい町です。震災からずいぶん経ち町が復興しているようですね。

    ReplyDelete
  15. I just wish we had some Japanese architecture to preserve and enjoy in the UK. It looks as though the architects of the old buildings pulled out all the stops to design the best buildings they could and I'm grateful to those who decided to preserve what they could and then fund the rebuilding of other structures. Thank you for this tour which, while different from much that you put on your blog, is still very interesting.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Intresting post! Nice to read about the history of these beautiful buildings.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Dear Yoko, this is a place I would love to visit! Thank you for your wonderful and informative photo journal, I enjoyed the tour with great pleasure, learning a something of the local history. Have a lovely day! :-

    ReplyDelete
  18. こんばんは

    海岸通りは歩くの楽しいですね。いつも思うのですが、神戸市はプロモーションが下手。市の財政きびしいでしょ? こんなにステキなところがあるのに(他にもたくさんある)、もっとましなプロモして観光収入を増やして活性化したらいいのに、と思うんですよ。神戸で宿泊してもらうようにもっとしないとね。神戸のたとえば異人館街をちょこっと見て、宿泊は大阪というのも多いし。
    それから、居留地のあのビルの情報、ありがとうございました。私、あそこは行ったことがないので、こんど行ってみますね。楽しそう!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Yokoさん こんにちは。
    懐かしい神戸の街並み。 このような古い石造りの古い建物に施された模様は見ていて飽きないですね。 写真に採りいれられた効果で1枚目の写真はまるで油絵のよう。 灰色の空の下、建物がより存在感を増し、印象的な景観写真となっています。私も画像加工は大好きです。

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anzuさんはどう画像処理をすればどういう効果が得られるか熟知のようですね。この神戸の海岸通りのビルもAnzuさんだともっとクリエィティブに見せられると思います。私は自然のままが好きで、今までカメラのフィルターは敬遠していたのですが、使ってみると期待以上だったので、どう見せたいか自分のイメージを考えながら時々はフィルター選びを楽しんでみようと思います。

      Delete
  20. 建物を撮ったことない気がしています。それほどstardustさんのは写す角度、距離感など立体的な広がりを感じさせてくれます。海の風景も素敵。背後に歴史を感じながら海岸通りを歩くのは楽しいでしょうね。

    ReplyDelete
  21. It looks very European. It is nice to see so much preserved or rebuilt. I learn so much history from you!

    ReplyDelete
  22. レトロとモダンがいい具合に調和していて、独特の雰囲気が漂っていますね。お店が、昔のレトロのビルに入っているのが、いいですね。ちょっと覗いてみようかなという気にさせます。神戸の夜景もきれいですよね。
    Have a nice day!

    ReplyDelete
  23. 神戸の街を散策したことはありませんが、もっとこじんまりした町を想像していました。歴史的なそしてゴージャスな雰囲気、それにレトロな建物が素敵です。町をよく知り尽くしたYokoさんだからこそ撮れた写真だと思いました。いつかゆっくり歩いてみたいです。

    ReplyDelete
  24. こんばんは。素敵な街ですね。大丸が再開発に頑張ったのですか。 こちらでは、影の薄いデパートですが、見直しました。 古くて良いものは残してほしいです。 東京では万世橋がよみがえりました。ご訪問するのが遅れまして、昨日まで旅行にいってました。

    ReplyDelete
  25. °♪♬♫º°

    A história contada através da arquitetura.

    °º✿♫ Bom fim de semana!
    °º✿ Beijinhos.
    º° ✿✿ ♫° ·.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Hi, thanks so much for the comment on my blog :)
    I am honored by your visit and comment. Please feel free to visit again and comment.
    The awesome structure that you mentioned is Burj Al Arab, the iconic hotel in the emirate of Dubai, UAE. I have already blogged about this amazing hotel http://magnificentdewdrops.blogspot.in/search/label/Burj%20Al%20Arab
    Moreover, the first video among the videos in the video panel on top of my webpage is about this dazzling building, uploaded on you tube !
    Thanks again :)

    ReplyDelete
  27. This post was so very interesting. I've gone through it several times. I knew something about European incursions in the area but you've made that history come alive. I love those magnificent buildings - they certainly would not look out of place in many European cities. And Kobe is so beautiful in so many ways. It's wonderful that the city has come back to a certain prosperity and beauty from the tragedies of the past.

    Thank you for your kind note. Tsurumi seems to be doing quite well. Turns out there is a Japanese group here that is providing her some assistance and also attending to certain Japanese rites which occur over a period of time. I believe there was something about the 49th day after death...candles and incense are involved? Interesting that this Japanese group was surprised when they learned that Tsurumi had "American" friends. They must be somewhat isolated, which I don't understand as there are a number of Japanese in the area.

    I expect we'll be seeing Tsurumi this coming week. She wants Lois Anne to assist her in buying a stationery bicycle. She can't ride a regular bike and thinks this will help her exercise.

    So glad to hear that your mother will be well-cared for in her time of need. You and your siblings are doing the right thing in my opinion.

    Best wishes, as always!

    Lowell

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment. I will visit your blog shortly. Have a nice day!