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. 

The station was established in 1886 as Japan’s first marine laboratory. It moved to its current location in 1897. The 77,000 sqm (19 acre) property was once home to the Arai-jo Castle, which was destroyed centuries ago. The University acquired the site in the 1880s. It was previously a guard house for the Tokugawa shogunate. In 1897, the first laboratory building was relocated to the property from its original location 2 kilometers to the south. It was subsequently destroyed in the 1923 Kanto Earthquake before being rebuilt several years later.

During WWII, the laboratory was used as a suicide torpedo base for one of Japan’s Special Attack Units. It was later confiscated by the US forces.

The first laboratory building. Images via the Misaki Marine Biological Station.

The architect, Yoshikazu Uchida (1885-1972) designed as many as 30 buildings for the University of Tokyo, aiding in its reconstruction following the 1923 Kanto Earthquake. He later went on to become the University’s President. His self-designed residence, built in 1928, was located across the street from Hiroo Garden Hills in central Tokyo, but was demolished in 1990 to make way for a block of high-end rental apartments. Following WWII, Uchida’s house was confiscated by the GHQ and used as the Soviet Union’s Embassy for 10 years.

Uchida’s residence in Nishiazabu shortly before its demolition (left), and the apartment building that replaced it (right).


Misakimachi Koajiro, Miura City, Kanagawa Prefecture

The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 2, 2018.
Misaki Marine Biological Station Homepage.

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