90+ year old home in Yokohama being restored

The new owner of a historic home in Yokohama is carrying out a full restoration. The Yamate 133 Ban-Kan residence was built sometime around 1930 and initially occupied by the Rising Sun Oil Corporation (a predecessor of Shell).

The 2-story wooden house includes attached servants’ quarters, and a garage, and has a total floor area of 285 sqm (3,067 sq.ft). It includes the original steel sash windows that would have been quite rare at the time of construction. The history of the site dates back even further, with a stone retaining wall dating from the Meiji period. Some traditional roof tiles were also unearthed. With signs of charring, it’s possible they were from a former house that would have been destroyed by fire in the 1923 Kanto Earthquake.

It was purchased by the operator of a well-known local patisserie who had found it purely by chance when browsing online real estate listings. It was only being advertised as the land only, with the expectation that a buyer would demolish the existing structure.

The exterior of the home had been altered over the years, with some repainting as well. Some architectural experts suggest that the home may have been designed by Czech architect Antonin Raymond.

Restoration work began in June 2021. In February, earthquake retrofitting and a roof replacement using tiles from France were completed. Currently, the exterior and interiors are being restored, with the exterior color being returned to its original yellow. Landscaping is also planned. Completion is expected later this year.

The home was certified by Yokohama City as a heritage building in March 2021.

The restoration journey can be followed over at the owner’s Youtube channel.

Yokohama’s Yamate bluff district was developed as a foreign settlement after the Port of Yokohama opened in 1859. It was once filled with large residences and gardens. Sadly, few of those pre-war homes are still standing today. The most recent estimate by Yokohama City puts the current number at 17.

Source: The Yokohama Keizai Shimbun, April 20, 2022.

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