400 yr old house in Osaka to be demolished

The owner of the Watanabe Residence in Osaka’s Yodogawa-ku has had the historical listing cancelled as he plans to demolish the home and sell the land in order to pay a high inheritance tax bill.

The current owner inherited the house two years ago and has not been able to pay the inheritance taxes on the property. An application was made to Osaka’s Board of Education to remove the listing, so that the property could be razed and sold. The Board of Education said they often receive applications to remove listings due to fire and other damage, but it is rare to receive a request due to difficulty paying taxes.

The Watanabe Residence is on a large 2,500 sqm (26,900 sqft) block of land. The wealthy farmer’s residence was built over 400 years ago in the beginning of the Edo period and is thought to be the oldest surviving house in Osaka City. It was listed as a cultural property in 1965.

An amendment to the cultural property preservation legislation in 1969 meant that owners were obligated to preserve their properties. However, the Watanabe Residence was listed under the old legislation whereby the owner was under no obligation and could cancel the listing at any time and for any reason.

Osaka considered purchasing the property, but estimates put the acquisition cost at around 500 million Yen (6.2 million USD). The owner is in a hurry to sell, so the plans by Osaka were cancelled.

2-17-3, Nishimikuni, Yodogawa-ku, Osaka City
9 minute walk from Mikuni Station

Source: The Sankei Shimbun, April 25, 2012.

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