Monday, February 10, 2020

Mansion for Foreign Engineers in Kagoshima

Ijinkan Foreigners mansion in Kagoshima
Ijinkan Foreign Engineers Residence in Kagoshima
Built in 1866 to house British engineers that were constructing a modern spinning mill as part of Satsuma Domains importation of Western technology, the Kyu Kagoshima Bosekisho Gishikan is usually known simply as Ijinkan. Since 2015 it has been a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Meiji Industrialization.

Ijinkan Foreigners mansion in Kagoshima
Ijinkan Foreigners mansion in Kagoshima
In 1862 an Englishman, Charles Lennox Richardson, had been cut down by Satsuma samurai for blocking the advance of their lords procession. Known as the Namamugi Incident after the village where the act occurred, the English demanded reparations and apologies, which they got from the Japanese government but which Satsuma absolutely refused. Consequently in 1863 a squadron of Royal Navy ships entered Kagoshima waters and bombarded the town. The town had been evacuated but there was plenty of material damage and a few Japanese were killed. More English were killed by the return fire, and both sides claimed victory.

Ijinkan Foreigners mansion in Kagoshima
The front porch of the Ijinkan in Kagoshima
The Satsuma, however, must have been impressed with the British because they very soon sent a group of students to England to study, even though this was illegal under Japanese law. They also sent samurai to purchase machinery and hire engineers to install the machinery and teach its use. It was for these engineers that the mansion was built.

Main hallway inside the Ijinkan Foreign Engineers mansion in Kagoshima
Main hallway inside the Ijinkan Foreign Engineers mansion in Kagoshima
Built in what would now be called "colonial" style, an English engineer oversaw construction, but it was built by Japanese carpenters and so includes elements of both cultures architectural elements. The inside has many displays and artifacts about this industrialisation process and the engineers and machinery. nearby is the Shuseikan, one of the stone built factories containing some of the machinery and more displays about the time. There are also a few other wooden, western-style houses in the vicinity like the former head office of the Serigano Gold Mine Comopany.

Former Office of the Serigano Gold Mine in Kagoshima
Former Office of the Serigano Gold Mine in Kagoshima

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