100+ year old home in Shibuya saved from demolition

The historic former home of Tamanosuke Kume (1861-1931, a politician and civil engineer, will be relocated to a city-center location in Kume’s hometown of Numata, Gunma Prefecture. Demolition was initially scheduled to start on September 1, but the home has been spared thanks to the efforts of local preservationists.

The western-style house was built in the 1910s for Kume as part of his palatial 33-acre estate. He sold the estate to the Kishu-Tokugawa family in the 1920s, with the home used as their guesthouse. The Tokugawas then began subdividing up the estate into the Uehara neighborhood we see today. 

After suffering some fire damage during WWII air raids, the interior had to be completely renovated. It was then temporarily confiscated by the occupying forces before being transferred to a private owner. That owner initially planned to demolish the reinforced-concrete house, but it was so sturdy and solid that the demolition costs were too high. Instead, they decided to add a kitchen wing and convert it into a house for rent. 

The 115 square meter (1,237 sq.ft) home was occupied up until last year, before being sold to a real estate company who is razing the site for redevelopment. 

Numata City plans to relocate the house to a site near the city hall. Reconstruction is expected to take several years.

Numata is no stranger to historic building relocations. The former Numata Savings Bank, Toki Family Western Residence, and former Numata Church Commemorative Hall have been relocated in the city. Just outside the city, a 191-year old stone country house from Scotland was dismantled and relocated to Japan over a six-year span from 1987 to 1993, with costs totaling 1.5 billion Yen. Named Lockheart Castle, it operates as a theme park.

Source: The Jomo Shimbun, September 26, 2020.

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