Tokyobling's Blog

Architecture – Kaichi Gakkou in Matsumoto

Posted in Places by tokyobling on June 15, 2010

I am a huge fan of old buildings and architecture but still I hadn’t heard of this place in Matsumoto city, Nagano prefecture: The Former Kaichi Gakkou Primary School (旧開智学校). The building has a really interesting history as one of the oldest Western Style primary schools in Japan. The building is an interesting mix of European Neoclassic architecture mixed with traditional Japanese temple decorations and I believe it’s one of the finest examples of early Meiji period architecture, also known as Gyofu architecture (擬洋風建築). This was at a time when Japan had just been open to the outside world for a few years and anything western was completely new to them. I will post more about the school history and some interiors later. If you want to compare to another famous historical Nagano school building have a look at this post and compare.

I took these with a polarizing circular filter on my Nikon 20mm F2.8 lens, it’s what brings out the sky! One of the photos is also massively photoshopped (can you guess which one?) to make up for the fish eye effect of such a wide lens on a FX camera. Enjoy!


5 Responses

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  1. Michaelpanda said, on June 15, 2010 at 6:06 am

    Ooh, I’ve never heard of this place before either! The creator did a pretty good job of approximating western architecture despite having never seen it (which is more than we can say for the poor guy who famously attempted to depict an “elephant” in Nikko’s Toshogu shrine having never seen an elephant before LOL)

    As for the photoshopped image… is it the second one? (kaichi_school_house_2.jpg…?)


  2. Celina said, on June 15, 2010 at 10:29 am

    Hello Tokyobling,

    I think, the architect really did an excellent mixture of the west and east style.

    I´m very much interested in japanese culture and trying to learn as much details about it as I can, my question is on your post on Nagano school building. I have always wondered about those traditional japanese rooms.

    Are they still usual in Japanese houses today or just mostly museums?

    Do they have some rules ( or just according to your own observations ) on how “empty” or how “full” of furnitures these traditional rooms should be?

    Thanks for your answer!


    • tokyobling said, on June 16, 2010 at 8:18 am

      Hi Celina! Long time no see! Traditional Japanese rooms are still very common in Japanese houses, less so in Tokyo and the big cities of course, but most new apartments still have one smaller room in the traditional tatami style. It’s called the washitsu. My first place in Tokyo had only tatami rooms so I can tell you from personal experience they were pretty full of clutter and stuff, but I do have friends who keep their washitsu just for the butsudan, or empty as a guest room or completely filled as a storage room. It all depends on the personality of the user I guess.


      • Celina said, on June 16, 2010 at 2:55 pm

        ….. 😀 , well that is really one interesting personal tatami room experience you have shared, thank The Lord God above in heaven I´m not your mother, 😀
        Anyway, the butsudan is almost similar to what most chinese homes have too.
        … until your next interesting “clutters and stuff” in your blog, much has been learned so far, I´d say! Bye for now, thanks for sharing Japan with us!


  3. Jerome said, on June 16, 2010 at 2:51 am

    very quaint! I like it!


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