Kitano-cho and the Ijinkan, Kobe 北野町と異人館

The Uroko House and Museum sits on one of the highest points of the Kitano District.

The Uroko House and Museum sits on one of the highest points of the Kitano District.

Kitano-cho (or Kitano District) 北野町 was an extension of the Kobe Foreign Settlement, in that it was the location of the latter’s residential and consular district.  Like the Oura district in Nagasaki, Kitano is nestled at the foot of the Kobe hills and is quite a hike to get to and to get around.

But the hike is worth it.  Kitano has the greatest concentration of Treaty Port era residential and consular architecture anywhere in Japan. This, despite the Kobe earthquake, which hardly affected the buildings here.

Unique for Kobe, these residential and consular buildings are called ijinkan 異人館, or ‘foreigner residences’.  Many of them, particularly the former consulates, have been turned into museums, cafes, restaurants and hotels; though quite a few are still privately owned residences.  The whole area feels a little bit like Switzerland, though in a kind of theme park way.

Kitano was also a multi-religious district, with Shinto temples, Christian churches, and even a mosque and a synagogue located here, serving the once cosmopolitan residents in this bustling former Treaty Port.

This gallery takes the reader through a walk of Kitano-cho, showcasing some of the most iconic ijinkan in the area.

The Weathercock Mansion is the most famous ijinkan in Kitano, built for a German merchant thomas Weathercock, in 1909.

The Weathercock Mansion is the most famous ijinkan in Kitano, built for a German merchant thomas Weathercock, in 1909.

The Former Sharp House is right beside the Weathercock Mansion, and was built in 1903. It is called the Moegi House today.

The Former Sharp House is right beside the Weathercock Mansion, and was built in 1903. It is called the Moegi House today.

Yamate No. 8 House.

Yamate No. 8 House.

The Former Wolhin House was used as the Dutch Consulate.

The Former Wolhin House was used as the Dutch Consulate.

The former Austrian Consulate.

The former Austrian Consulate.

Blue House, viewed from the Former Kobe International Club.

Blue House, viewed from the Former Kobe International Club.

The Former American Consulate (1898).

The Former American Consulate (1898).

The Rhine House - formerly the German Consulate (1915).

The Rhine House – formerly the German Consulate (1915).

The former Panama Consulate.

The former Panama Consulate.

French House - formerly the French Consulate.

French House – formerly the French Consulate.

The back view of English House - formerly the British Consulate.

The back view of English House – formerly the British Consulate.

Ijinkan-dori is a main street in Kitano District, lined with ijinkan and historic gas lamps.

Ijinkan-dori is a main street in Kitano District, lined with ijinkan and historic gas lamps.

The Choueke Family Residence is privately owned.

The Choueke Family Residence is privately owned.

Queen's Chapel (from 1900s).

Queen’s Chapel (from 1900s).

Privately owned Ijinkan in a unique Victorian style.

Privately owned Ijinkan in a unique Victorian style.

Ijinkan en route to the Kitano district.

Ijinkan en route to the Kitano district.

Starbucks occupies a former ijinkan.

Starbucks occupies a former ijinkan.

A luxury hotel occupying a former ijinkan.

A luxury hotel occupying a former ijinkan.

More ijinkan.

More ijinkan.

Graciani Restaurant.

Graciani Restaurant.

A period postbox.

A period postbox.

The Kobe Kitano Hotel.

The Kobe Kitano Hotel.

Kitano Tenman Jinja Shrine.

Kitano Tenman Jinja Shrine.

Ikuta Jinja.

Ikuta Jinja.

Ohel Shelomo Synagogue serves the Kansai area.

Ohel Shelomo Synagogue serves the Kansai area.

Kobe Muslim Mosque.

Kobe Muslim Mosque.

Totenkaku Chinese Restaurant.

Totenkaku Chinese Restaurant.

And finally... the Korean Consulate.

And finally… the Korean Consulate.

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About Kennie Ting

I am a wandering cityophile and pattern-finder who is pathologically incapable of staying in one place for any long period of time. When I do, I see the place from different perspectives, obsessive-compulsively.
Gallery | This entry was posted in Art & Architecture, Cities & Regions, Japan, Landmarks & History, Photography, Travel & Mobility and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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