Historic waterfront properties in Miura at risk of demolition

The University of Tokyo may be planning to demolish their Misaki Marine Biological Station Laboratory building in Kanagawa Prefecture. The 2-storey, 1,000 sqm (10,760 sq.ft) building was built in 1936 and sits on a waterfront location overlooking Shoiso, Aburatsubo and Sagami Bays in Miura. The demolition is likely to also include the 400 sqm Exhibit of Aquatic Species building that was built in 1932. This was one of the Kanto region’s first full-scale aquariums and once drew over 100,000 visitors per year, turning the Aburatsubo area into a sight-seeing destination. 

City to purchase Lafcadio Hearn’s residence for 175 million Yen

Matsue City in Shimane Prefecture plans to acquire the former residence of writer Lafcadio Hearn for 175 million Yen (approx. 1.6 million USD). The seller is a private individual. The traditional, single-storey Japanese residence has a total floor area of 244 sqm (2,645 sq.ft) and sits on a 1,030 sqm (11,083 sq.ft) block of land located directly across the street from Matsue Castle.

Wacoal’s Kyoto Machiya guesthouse to open tomorrow

Wacoal Holdings, a lingerie company, will open their first traditional machiya guesthouse in Kyoto on April 28. The 92-year old townhouse is located 800 meters west of Nanzen-ji Temple and 500 meters south of Heian Shrine. The two-storey wooden house has a total floor area of 91 sqm (980 sq.ft) and can sleep up to six guests. Nightly rates range from 60,000 ~ 180,000 Yen plus tax, depending on the season and number of guests.

Ace Hotel to open hotel in Kyoto’s historic Shinpukan building

Ace Hotel, a boutique hotel chain headquartered in Portland, is making its first foray in the Asian market with the opening of a hotel in Kyoto next year. The 213-room Ace Hotel Kyoto will be the main part of the historic Shinpukan redevelopment. With architect Kengo Kuma leading the project’s design, the hotel will incorporate the existing building’s early 20th century architectural elements with contemporary styling. The building is the perfect fit for the hotelier’s brand which focuses on reviving and repurposing older and more character-filled buildings.

Asakusa’s Ryounkaku Tower foundations unearthed at construction site

Red-brick foundations of the Ryounkaku Tower in Asakusa were unearthed in a construction site in February. News of the discovery quickly spread, with a number of people visiting the site to catch a glimpse of the long-lost tower’s traces.

According to the Taito-ku Board of Education, similar red-brick foundations were found in a construction site nearby in 1980. However, since the remains are not considered cultural property and are not in particularly good condition, there are no heritage protections or limitations to restrict the construction work. A 3-storey retail building is planned for the site.

Government seeking to acquire and preserve historic villas in Oiso

The Japanese government is considering converting several privately owned historic villas in the coastal town of Oiso into a public park. The project may include acquiring the properties and restoring them so that they can be opened to the public.

The proposal covers a 6 hectare site including the Sorokaku Villa, former Ikeda Shigeaki Residence, former Okuma Shigenobu Residence, and former Mutsu Minemitsu Residence.

The properties are owned by private companies and not currently open to the public. Some of the homes, which are unused, have fallen into various states of disrepair over the years. The government may consider purchasing the buildings and land from their owners and has set aside 27.3 billion Yen (approx. 240 million USD) in the national park’s budget for the project.

Historic Kudan Kaikan redevelopment plans announced

On September 21st, the Kanto Local Finance Bureau announced that Tokyu Land had won the competitive bidding process for the redevelopment of the Kudan Kaikan building in central Tokyo. The bidding price will be announced after Tokyu signs the contractural agreement in March 2018.

The developer will lease the 8,700 sqm block of land under a 70-year fixed-term and will build a high-rise office tower on the site. The north-eastern corner of the original Kudan Kaikan building will be preserved and retrofitted using a base-isolation system (menshin-kozo).

100+ year old convent to be converted into luxury hotel

On July 31, Mori Trust announced that they have acquired the historic former Maria-en Catholic nursery school in Nagasaki. Mori will restore the 119-year old building and convert it into an internationally-branded luxury hotel targeting wealthy foreign tourists with an opening scheduled for around 2022. Mori Trust operates 21 hotels across Japan, and this will be their first venture in the Kyushu region. The seller was the Minami Yamate-kai social welfare corporation.