Demolition starts on 1910 Yokohama warehouse architects sought to save


Demolition began Thursday in Yokohama on a warehouse that witnessed Japan’s industrial rise in the 20th century and even survived the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake.

Major trading house Mitsui & Co. built the warehouse on Nihon Odori Avenue, Japan’s first Western-style avenue, in Yokohama’s Naka Ward in 1910 with a combination of bricks, wood and steel beams to withstand earthquakes.

The building, which stocked raw silk, was even older than the famous red brick warehouse in the port city.

Given its historical significance, architects lamented the demolition of the warehouse. Up until the start of work, groups of architects based in the Kanto region had asked relevant parties to change their mind.

“In Yokohama, one historical building after another has been demolished. This is a critical situation,” said Mitsuyoshi Kasai, a member of one of the architect groups involved in trying to preserve the warehouse. “I wish public authorities had stepped in with more determination.”

The architects had requested Ken Corp., a Tokyo-based real estate firm that now owns the warehouse, not to scrap it. Although the Yokohama Municipal Government suggested the structure should be designated as a cultural asset, the real estate firm eventually decided to raze it because of maintenance costs.

The removal work is scheduled to be finished in February, Ken said. The firm has not decided how the site will be used.

  • At Times Mistaken

    It would make a nice new home for Yokohama’s Silk Museum.

  • Such a pity that real estate folks only seek the quick money, instead the lasting value.

    Similar happens here in Dresden, one of the major industrial cities of the past here in Eastern Germany, over the last years as the city is growing.

    • At Times Mistaken

      Besides the 1923 earthquake, this building also managed to escape the ravages of WWII (something Dresden is also quite familiar with I gather) relatively unscathed. After withstanding the firestorms of Mother Nature and war, in the end it’s no match for human greed. As of Friday night the building was still standing and as of today a petition to save it is still up on Change (dot) org for anyone interested in taking a stand for this storied structure before it falls to the wrecking ball.