A classic example of western-style architecture, this elegant white building, "The Kiryu Meijikan," was constructed in 1878. More than 100 years have passed since its construction, yet the building maintains its original western ambience. Strolling through the interior one can observe the various distinctive features of pseudo-western construction characteristic of earlier times. Visitors will encounter traces from the past as well as a fresh impression of modernity.
(Watercolor illustration by Shozo Suzuki)
Distinctive Characteristics of the BuildingThe building is one of the few examples of early western architecture in the Kanto area. Rooms in the interior are Japanese-style while the external ornamentation is western. In this sense, the building is exemplary of pseudo-western style construction. The splendid harmony of western architectural motifs and traditional Japanese engineering and molding is one of the building's unique aspects.
FIRST FLOOR EXHIBITION ROOM
Since its creation as a hygiene office and medical school (in Maebashi), the building has been employed over the years in various capacities. Signs, wallpaper fragments, and documents relating to the relocation and preservation of the building are exhibited in this room.
A piano, rogan, rickshaw, bicycle and other various antiques are displayed in this room. In addition, black lacquer furniture of the same style used by the Imperial Household Agency or the Imperial Family during the Meiji Period is exhibited here.
COFFEE AND TEA ROOM
Please take time to enjoy cake and coffee while listening to nostalgic tunes played on the gramophone or antique music box.
SECOND FLOOR CENTRAL PARLOR
The room is furnished with elegant black lacquer tables and chairs, inlaid with gold leaf. The chair cushions are padded with horse hair. This room is often used by Kiryu citizens for taking commemorative pictures of family members.
SECOND FLOOR CONFERENCE ROOM/ EXHIBITION ROOMS
There is both a small and a large conference room.
The Exhibition Room is used for regularly scheduled exhibits and can also be used by the public free of charge to exhibit private collections.
THE BUILDING AS A NARRATION OF FORMER TIMES
- The rooms are, for the most part, located symmedtrically to the left and right of the entrance.
- The interior walls and ceilings are papered with white paper decorated with a gray mica motif. the original imported wallpaper can still be seen. Currently, some ceilings in the building are papered with indigo-dyed Kiryu washi.
- The pillar ornamentation varies from post to post.
- The doors to the various rooms are approximately 120 cm. wide. The doors of the main entrance and guest parlor are double, French-style doors. All of the windows in the building open vertically.
- Each room in the building is separate, and can, for the most part, be entered from the front porch or balcony.
- The roof is finished in stucco and tile with ornamental lightning rods and traditional Japanese "devil-tile" decorations which serve to ward off evil.
- The main gate, gateposts, gate doors, and bronze latticework on the second floor balcony were all restored to their original state based on photographs taken at the time of construction.
- Furnishings used when the buildings was first completed are unknown. Careful consideration has been given to the use of furnishings appropriate to the period. For example, the chandeliers, guest parlor and conforence room furnishings are all typical Meiji sytle furnishings.
- Exterior walls are painted. The room baseboards were originally painted in a Bengal stripe motif. Colors have been matched to colors found on the building during restoration.
FIRST FLOOR FLOORPLAN
SECOND FLOOR FLOORPLAN
|May 1, 1878
||Construction begins on the Health Office and Medical School
|August 30, 1878
||Construction in completed.
|September 4, 1878
||The building is visited by the Emperor.
||The Health Office is closed.
||The Gunma Prefectural Medical School is closed.
||The building is designated a Prefectural School for Girls. This school closed in 1886. Thereafter, it was designated a normal school with an attached elementary school. Later the building was used as the Gunma Prefectural Products Exhibition Hall.
|June 5, 1928
||The building is petitioned for by Aioi Village. Permisionis granted.
|February 25, 1929
||The building is relocated in Aioi village.
|October 1, 1954
||Aioi village is incorporated in the city of Kiryu. The building become the Aioi Branch Office of Kiryu City Hall.
|April 1, 1959
||The building is designated Aioi Kominkan (Community Center). In 1982 the Kominkan and Branch Office move to another building.
|February 3, 1976
||The building is designated a Cultural Treasure.
|January 1, 1984
||Restoration work begins on half of the building. Work is completed on March 31, 1986.
|May 1, 1986
||The building is named the "Kiryu Meijikan."