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The Former Kaichi School building

Nagano

The oldest elementary school in Japan,
this building combines elements redolent of both the Occident and the Orient.

(c) Nagano Prefecture, JNTOThis is an elementary school that was built in 1876. In 1961, it became a nationally-designated Important Cultural Property, as one of the oldest elementary schools in Japan. The part that you can view today was dismantled in 1964 and relocated to another site before being rebuilt. A two-story wooden building, it was constructed in the Giyofu architectural style (mimicked Western style), with elements redolent of Western architecture scattered throughout. These include white plaster walls, decorated pillars, and the second-floor balcony. It used an abundance of foreign-made glass, so it was nicknamed the "Giyaman School", after the Dutch word diamant, meaning diamond. (During the Edo period (1603-1868), glass was processed using diamonds, so glass products at that time were called giyaman.) However, it also features many elements reminiscent of Asia, such as an octagonal tower and carvings of dragons, so it has a rather mysterious air.

About 70 % of the cost of constructing the school was donated by the local townspeople. This elementary school, which embodies the fervent local desire for education, has been reborn as a cultural facility displaying photographs and educational materials from that time, attracting a great many tourists even now. Why not come and get acquainted with this unique building telling the story of early modern Japan?

Information

Address: 2-4-12 Kaichi, Matsumoto City, Nagano
Hours open to visitors: 09:00 - 17:00
Admission Fee: 500 yen (adults), 150 yen (elementary and junior high school students)
Closed: December 29 - January 3; the 3rd Monday of the month from March to November (the following day if this falls on a national holiday); every Monday from December to February (the following day if this falls on a national holiday)
Directions: About 25 minutes on foot from Matsumoto Station (about 2 hours 40 minutes from Nagoya Station) on the JR Shinonoi Line
(Car) About 15 minutes from Matsumoto interchange on the Nagano Expressway

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