The changing faces of the former residence of Sadayakko Kawakami


This is the former home of Sadayakko Kawakami, who made her name as Japan's first actress, and Momosuke Fukuzawa, once anointed the "king of electric power". The building was designed by Amerikaya, a residential specialist known for its revolutionary designs, and, with its use of US housing designs, managed to strike a fine balance between Japan and the West. Stretching east-to-west, the structure employs a Western style of architecture, while inside, the portion to the west of the house and to the back as you look from the entrance features Japanese-style rooms.


In 1937, Tsunezo Kawasakiya, then director of Daido Steel, bought approximately 2,140m2 of the property as well as the building. The remaining 6,500m2 or so was subdivided off. As a result, the Western-style facade of the eastern side of the house was removed and the western part of the building was expanded and renovated. Stained glass and some other original materials were recycled from the dismantled part of the structure, and the external view was retained with the use of a red-tile roof. Later, in 1959, around 560m2 of the northern end of the remaining property was sold off.


With the donation of the building to Nagoya City in 2000, the city dismantled and carefully stored the house, and then rebuilt it at 23 Shumoku-cho 3-chome, Higashi-ku. The shape of the current grounds as well as legal and functional requirements dictates that the building has some slight differences from its original form—for instance; the building has been revolved 90°. However, the original materials dismantled and stored previously have been used wherever possible to maintain the atmosphere of the time.

The relocation and restoration of the former residence of Sadayakko Kawakami

When relocating and restoring the former residence of Sadayakko Kawakami, consideration was given to the fact that the building had close links with both Kawakami and Momosuke Fukuzawa, not to mention the unique exterior and grand parlor that was the scene of much social interaction, and the decision was made to restore it to its original form. Another aim was to achieve registration as a tangible cultural property. To that end, four policies were established.
  • Original materials remained from the binning would be used as much as possible.
  • Parts diverted after renovation would be returned to where they were originally used.
  • Preserved materials whose original usage was unclear would still be used as much as possible.
  • Materials and techniques from the time of the original building would be recreated.

Details of the relocation and restoration

Feb.2000 Building donated by Daido Life Service, Co., Ltd.
Feb.-March, 2000 Trace research of the original building at the time it was built; Dismantlement and preservation (dismantled parts stored in a warehouse).
Nov. 2000 Land leading to area designated for townscape preservation purchased for relocation.
Dec. 2000 –
March, 2002
Preliminary and working restoration design drawings drawn up
March, 2003 –
Oct. 2004
Restoration work
Feb.8,2005 Opened
Feb.9,2005 Registered as a tangible cultural property

Relocated portion

approximately 80% of the structural materials, floor, ceiling, fixture materials and furnishings are the old materials disassembled and stored from the old location and reused here.

Restored portion

The current building has been altered slightly from the original for functional reasons. Some fixture materials and furnishings are old materials reused here.

The restoration is an approximation of the original appearance of the building based on surveys at the time of disassembly, old photographs showing the house, interviews with people that actually lived in the building and other buildings designed by Amerikaya. Some parts of the house, such as the stained glass, sofas, floors, ceilings and fitting materials are old materials reused here.


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