Reconstruction efforts begin Birthplace of Japanese Red Cross Society, “Janes’ Residence”

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Janes’ Residence, known as the birthplace of the Japanese Red Cross Society (JRCS), is the house where Hakuaisha (the former name of JRCS) to set up the organization. The permission was granted during the Satsuma Rebellion (1877) by Arisugawanomiya, Conquest Governor General to Genroingikan (Councilor of chamber of Elders) Tsunetami Sano (later the first President of JRCS). The house was completely destroyed by the Kumamoto Earthquake. However, efforts toward reconstruction have begun.

Janes’ Residence (constructed in 1871 as the house for the family of L.L. Janes who had been hired as a teacher at the new School of Western Learning) is the oldest western architecture remaining in Kumamoto prefecture. It is designated as a significant cultural asset by Kumamoto prefecture. Kumamoto city is going forward with a research and storage project of materials of the building and documents in order to restore it using the original materials as much as possible. The reusable materials are sorted out depending on the damage. According to the Kumamoto city staff in charge, basically, wooden parts will be reused. Most exhibits and documents are only soiled with dirt, so they will be able to display them again. The reconstruction work will be inaugurated this fall towards the completion by the end of March 2020.

Before the disaster, the number of the annual visitors reached about 6,000 and many of them were school children. It was a popular spot for taking pictures for engaged couples before the wedding ceremony. In the process of the reconstruction Kumamoto city is taking into consideration the recovery of the residence’s cultural importance, as well as its popular use for many people. The expense for the reconstruction is Approx. 500 million yen. Kumamoto city intends to apply ordinary revenue, a grant from the government and prefecture, as well as the public donations (Kumamoto Earthquake Donation for reconstruction and restoration) starting this February.

Newsletter, April 2017 by JRCS