Japan Museums: The Foreigners Mansion, Ijinkan, Kagoshima City
The Foreigners Mansion, Ijinkan 異人館
The Kyu-Kagoshima Bosekisho Gishikan (Old Kagoshima Spinning Engineers House) in Kagoshima is, like its many counterparts in other Japanese towns such as the foreigners' houses in Kobe, simply known as Ijinkan, Foreigners Residence.
The Ijinkan was constructed at the end of the Edo Period in 1866 to house seven British engineers.
Following the military engagement between the Royal Navy and the Satsuma shore batteries in 1863, known rather grandiosely as the Anglo Satsuma War, Satsuma (present-day Kagoshima Prefecture) and Britain enjoyed a close relationship. As part of their drive to modernize their domain, a group of students were sent to study in England, even though this was still illegal according to shogunate law.
Traveling with the students were two senior samurai, Niiro and Godai, who were charged with purchasing technology and weaponry from the British. From Platt & Co in Stockport they purchased spinning equipment to set up a modern textile industry, and the machinery along with four engineers headed by an E. Home arrived in Kagoshima in 1866.
The following year three more Brits including the Chief Engineer John Tettrow joined them. Their job was to install the machinery and train the Japanese in its operation. They were housed in the Ijinkan built for them.
Originally white, the substantial mansion was built in what can be called Colonial Style, though elements of Japanese architecture and construction were also used. On display is some of the furniture brought by the British as well as information about the spinning mill and machinery.
During the 1877 Satsuma Rebellion the building was used as a field hospital.
On the short walk from Sengan-en Garden to the Ijinkan are a couple of other wooden buildings from the period, including the old office of the Serigano Gold Mine.
The property was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2015 as part of the listing of the sites Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding and Coal Mining.
Access - Getting to Ijinkan
A number of buses run out to the Sengan-en-mae bus top including the Kagoshima City View Bus from Kagoshima Chuo Station, Kagoshima Aquarium and the Shiroyama Observatory. From Kagoshima Airport, Senganen is around 40 minutes by car.
The Ijinkan is just 200 meters from the Shuseikan in front of Sengan-en.
Tel: 099 227 1962
Open 7 days a week from 8.30am to 5.30pm
Entrance 200 yen for adults
Hotels In Kagoshima
The area around Kagoshima Chuo Station has many hotels including the Hotel Gastof, the Hotel Urbic Kagoshima, the Toyoko Inn Kagoshima Chuo-eki Nishi-guchi, the JR Kyushu Hotel Kagoshima Hotel and the APA Hotel Kagoshima Chuo-Ekimae.
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