Kobe Maya Hotel seeking national heritage listing

A non-profit organisation is seeking donations to help preserve the 88-year old Maya Hotel and prepare it for a potential national heritage listing.

The art deco hotel was built in 1929 on the hills overlooking Kobe City. It has been closed since 1993 and has been left to rot and fall into ruin. In 2016, a local group obtained permission from the owner, an Osaka-based real estate company, to open it up for public tours.

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Mt Rokko’s corporate retreats to be converted into lodging for foreign tourists


Hyogo Prefecture and Kobe City are embarking on a plan to convert unused corporate retreats and holiday homes in Mt. Rokko into accommodation facilities for foreign tourists.

Mt. Rokko is said to be West Japan’s version of Karuizawa, and was historically a popular summer mountain resort area. Following the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake, tourist numbers dropped significantly and the area went into decline. A city investigation in 2016 found 171 of the 233 corporate retreats were not being adequately maintained and potentially falling into ruin.

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Abandoned Maya Hotel may soon be open to the public

Kobe Maya Kanko Hotel 1

Closed and off-limits to the public for the past 23 years, the overgrown and abandoned Maya Kanko Hotel overlooking Kobe City may soon be accessible on guided tours. Local groups have obtained permission from the property owner and are in the process of preparing hiking trips.

The art deco hotel was built atop Mt. Maya in 1929 by the Maya Cablecar Company. It was originally called Maya Club and was developed in conjunction with the company’s cable car line. The four-storey hotel offered sweeping views over the city and bay below.

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Historic Villa in Kobe searching for new owner

Okamoto Residence 2

The owner of a 93-year old European-style residence in Kobe is looking for a new owner to carry on the home’s legacy. Open days in June and July were arranged for the house by the Heritage House Trust. The conditions of the sale will require the new owner to preserve the structure.

The 2-storey home was built on a hillside position in Higashinada-ku in 1923. It was designed by architect Shichiro Kigo (1884-1955) and built for businessman Jiro Inabata. It was later used as a reception hall for the Miyaji Steamboat Company. In the 1960s, most of the hillside surroundings were subdivided into a housing estate called Okamoto Garden. It was at this time that the current owner’s family purchased the property.

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116-year old building in Kobe to be razed by developer

Familiar Hall Kobe 1

One of Kobe’s earliest western-style buildings has been sold to a developer and will be demolished to make way for a high-rise apartment building. The property, which was sold along with an adjoining block of land, had a price tag of several billion Yen.

‘Familiar Hall’ was built in 1900 as the Kobe branch office of the Mitsubishi Bank (now known as the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ). In 1973, the Mitsubishi bank branch was closed, and in 1977 the building and land was sold to Familiar – an apparel company.

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Kobe to redevelop No. 2 City Hall

Kobe City Hall 1

Kobe City is considering demolishing and rebuilding the ageing No. 2 City Hall.  Demolition could start as early as this year.

The No. 2 Building was completed in 1957. It originally had 8 floors, but the upper floors were removed after suffering catastrophic damage during the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake. The magnitude 7.3 earthquake caused the 6th floor of the building to collapse under the weight of the floors above. Rather than demolish the building, the 6th, 7th and 8th floors were removed, and the building went back into use from March 1996 onwards.

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$100 million resort for Kobe’s Mount Rokko

Rokkosan Resort 7

Nagoya-based Resorttrust, Inc. announced plans to open a members-only resort hotel in Kobe’s Rokkosan area. “XIV Rokko Sanctuary Villa” will be a 48-room resort with Japanese restaurant, bar, spa, and shops. It is scheduled to open in March 2018.

The resort has been designed by KKS Group, a specialist architectural firm that has designed numerous hotels around the world including several Shangri-La and Hilton Hotels, the Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel in Shibuya, and the Capitol Hotel Tokyu in Tokyo. The design of the hotel is said to be the ‘Imperial Modern’ style which can be seen in some of the old and grand estates in Japan from the early 1900s. Frank Lloyd Wright’s former Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, and the former Maeda Residence in Meguro were said to be the inspiration behind the design.

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Kobe to restore 82-year old town hall

Kobe Municipal Mikage Town Hall 1Kobe City will soon carry out earthquake-retrofitting work on the historic Kobe Municipal Mikage Town Hall. The hall will close in early 2016 and will reopen in 2017. Although it survived the 1995 Hanshin Earthquake, a building inspection in 2008 found that it did not meet current earthquake codes.

With the urging of local residents, the city plans to retain as much of the historic exterior and interior as possible. Retrofitting and repairs are expected to cost 1.597 billion Yen (13.2 million USD).

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Kobe forcibly demolishes condemned building

Kobe FutatabisujichoThe Kobe City Government began the forced demolition of a dilapidated and abandoned building in Futatabisujicho, Chuo-ku in May. This is the second time since 2010 that the city has carried out a forced demolition. 

The 2-storey wood-framed building was built sometime in the 1950s ~ 1960s. The exterior walls were cracked and the building was beginning to collapse. Nearby residents were concerned that it could collapse and damage neighbouring homes and petitioned the city in 2010 to take action.

The city tried to contact the owners – one of whom had already died – but the surviving owner ignored all of the city’s correspondence and requests. The city eventually decided to carry out the demolition without the owner’s permission due to the hazard posed by the building. The surviving owner will be billed for 50% of the 1.4 million Yen in demolition costs.

According to recent estimates, there are over 90 buildings in Kobe City that are deemed hazardous.

The Building Standards Act has provisions which allow the forced demolition of privately-owned homes and buildings if they are deemed to pose a danger to the community and the owners ignore requests to take action.

Source: The Sankei Shimbun, May 21, 2014.

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Japan Pearl Center at risk of demolition

Japan Pearl Center Kobe 2

The owners of the Japan Pearl Center building, a well-known modernist building in Kobe’s old foreign settlement area, recently announced that they are considering demolishing the 62-year old building.

The four-storey building was designed by architect Yoshimitsu Mitsuyasu completed in 1952. It was built by Hyogo Prefecture as a centre for the local pearl industry. It was fitted out with fluorescent lighting, which was very new at the time. The building survived the 1995 Great Hanshin earthquake which devastated much of the city.

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