Kobe City Hall was located next to the Local District Court, on the former grounds of Hachinomiya Jinja, a shinto shrine. It was Kobe’s second City Office and completed in 1909 (Meiji 42).
The building was designed by Japanese architect Kanenori Akiyoshi, who was also involved in the construction of the Hyogo Prefectural Office (now Hyogo House or 兵庫県公館, Hyogoken Kokan). He employed the same French Renaissance style his boss Hanjiro Yamaguchi had used for the prefectural office. This explains why the two buildings look so similar.
On the opening day, well-known writer Wenceslau de Moraes gave an opening speech as the representative of the local foreign community.
In 1898 (Meiji 31), de Moraes had deserted his wife and two sons in Macao, and moved to Kobe, where he became consul of Portugal, a post he would hold until 1913 (Taisho 2). For some thirty years he was Portugal’s primary source of information about the East, performing a similar function as the better known Lafcadio Hearn. Although the two covered a lot of the same ground, strangely they never met.
Akiyoshi’s brainchild was used as Kobe’s City Office until September 1945 (Showa 20), when these functions moved to a building on Matsumoto Dori. In 1957 (Showa 32), the city officials moved again to their present location on Flower Road in Sannomiya.
The building somehow survived the intense US firebombing of WWII, but unfortunately it was torn down in 1985 (Showa 60).1
On its location is now a structure used by Kobe’s Public Prosecutor.
1 Information based on interviews with officials of Kobe City Government.
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Reference for Citations
Duits, Kjeld (). Kobe 1910s: Kobe City Hall, OLD PHOTOS of JAPAN. Retrieved on December 11, 2023 (GMT) from https://www.oldphotosjapan.com/photos/816/kobe-city-hall