Imperial Hemp Building, Nihonbashi, c. 1930.



1920sArchitectureHistoric District
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The red-brick Imperial Hemp Building, astride Nihonbashi Bridge, c. 1930. Behind it is Mitsukoshi department store.

The red-brick Imperial Hemp Building [Teikoku Seimai Kaisha], astride Nihonbashi Bridge, c. 1930. Behind it is Mitsukoshi department store.

“The Imperial Hemp Weaving Company building, designed by Tatsuno Kingo and erected in 1911, was closely associated with the [Nihonbashi] waterside environment. Facing the bridge was a tower-like stairwell, which served as an exterior accent. From the windows at the top of the spiral staircase could be seen the imposing outline of Nihonbashi Bridge and, slightly further down, the surface of the river.”

Tokyo, a Spatial Anthropology, by Hidenobu Jinnai, 1995

Nihonbashi, the Imperial Hemp building, and Mitsukoshi department store, c. 1930.

Nihonbashi Bridge (foreground), the Imperial Hemp building, and Mitsukoshi department store (right), c. 1930.

From the wiki: “Tatsuno Kingo studied architecture at the Imperial College of Engineering where he was a student of the influential British architect Josiah Conder. After his graduation in 1879, Tatsuno journeyed to London in 1880 attending courses at the University of London. On his return to Tokyo, Tatsuno taught first at the Imperial College of Engineering before becoming department head at University of Tokyo.

“In 1886, Tatsuno was one of the founders of the forerunner of the Architectural Institute of Japan, the then-named ‘Building Institute’. The organization was based upon the Royal Institute of British Architects. The group met regularly, sponsored lectures, and produced Japan’s first architectural journal.

“Among the significant buildings Tatsuno designed in Tokyo are included Tokyo Central Station, the Bank of Japan, Manseibashi Station, and the original Kokugikan [National Sumo Hall]; and in Nara, the Nara Hotel.”

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