Thursday, March 14, 2024

Kounkaku Matsue

In the grounds of Matsue Castle stands quite an elegant Western-style building called Kounkaku.

It was built in 1902-3 as a lodging for the Meiji Emperor. The emperor made half a dozen grand tours around the country, part of the governments program to instill a sense of nationhood among the population using the emperor as a unifying symbol. 

All across the country towns and cities built such places in the hopes of attracting a visit from the emperor.

In the end, Meiji didn't visit Matsue, but his son, the Crown Prince did, in 1907, and he stayed there.

Now it is used for a variety of exhibitions and also houses a cafe.

Many similar, Western-style buildings were built, in the early days as residences for foreigners, like the mansion for foreign engineers in Kagoshima.

Some of the Japanese nobility built them for themselves, like the Jinpukaku in Tottori. However, many smaller, much less pretentious Western-style buildings were used for such things as post offices, hospitals, local government offices, etc. Like this former hospital near Kurume.

The previous post in this series on Matsue was Matsue Castle itself.

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