Business

Historic Tokyo house to become gathering place for executives and entrepreneurs

by Kazuaki Nagata

Staff Writer

A 91-year-old historic residence in Tokyo will turn into a business hub starting next month with a goal of helping company executives and entrepreneurs cultivate new ideas and communicate freely, operators of the facility announced Wednesday.

The Spanish-style house located near Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward is expected to be mainly used for meetings among executives and those tasked with creating new business ideas, according to the three firms — Tokyu Corp., Takenaka Corp. and Toho-Leo Co. — that are jointly working on the project.

The facility, named Kudan House, has 850 square meters of floor space and boasts a number of classic rooms with vintage furniture. It also has a terrace, a Japanese-style tatami-floored room and a cozy space for tea ceremony.

The three-story residence with a basement was built in 1927 and lived in by Mankichi Yamaguchi, a wealthy businessman from Niigata Prefecture. The top architects of the day, including Tachu Naito, who was known for designing quake-resistant structures, were involved with the construction.

It is recognized as a tangible cultural property by the government.

Yamaguchi’s family members are hoping the project will tap the historic house’s value while also allowing it to be preserved.

“This place has a different atmosphere, much like a salon, compared to rental meeting rooms in ordinary buildings or those at hotels,” said Jun Kumahara, who heads the brand communication team at Toho-Leo, an Osaka-based firm that provides environment-related technologies to houses and buildings.

Taking advantage of this historic, classic and quiet atmosphere in the middle of bustling Tokyo, people may be inspired to come up with fresh ideas more often, Kumahara added.

The operators said they have not come up with a clear plan to monetize the venture and they haven’t decided if they should charge members monthly or hourly.