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QuestionCan you tell us about the buildings of the Bank's Head Office?

Answer The Bank's Head Office consists of three buildings: the Old Building -- including the Main Building and Buildings 2 and 3; the New Building; and the Annex Building. For images of each building, visit the Virtual Tour of the Bank of Japan.

Overview

Old Building

Main Building
Address 2-1-1 Nihonbashi-Hongokucho, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Structure Stone and brick
Exterior Underground, ground floors: Granite
Upper floors: Andesite
Construction period September 1890-February 1896
Buildings 2 and 3 (Building 1 has been demolished)
Address 2-1-1 Nihonbashi-Hongokucho, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Structure Reinforced concrete with steel frame
Exterior Underground, ground floors: Granite
Upper floors: Andesite
Construction period October 1932 (start of construction of Building 2)-June 1938 (completion of Building 3)

New Building

Address 2-1-1 Nihonbashi-Hongokucho, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Structure Reinforced concrete with steel frame
Exterior Granite
Construction period October 1966-March 1973

Annex Building

Address 1-3-1 Nihonbashi-Hongokucho, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Structure Reinforced concrete with steel frame
Exterior Granite
Construction period June 1982-September 1984

Details

Construction of the Old Building (Main Building)

At the time of its establishment in 1882, the Bank operated in a building by the Eitai Bridge. It was small and a little far from the center of Tokyo, hence the relocation to the current site was decided the following year after the Bank's establishment.

The Main Building was designed by Dr. Tatsuno Kingo, a prominent architect and professor at Technical College of the Imperial University (currently the Faculty of Engineering, the University of Tokyo). The building was designated an important cultural property on February 5, 1974.

Dr. Tatsuno also designed nine branches of the Bank, including in Osaka, Kyoto, and Otaru (currently the Otaru Museum), as well as the Tokyo Station Building and the former sumo stadium (Kokugikan) in Ryogoku.

Trivia about the Old Building

Why Nihonbashi was chosen as the relocation site

It is said that Nihonbashi was chosen as the relocation site for the Head Office mainly because of the following reasons.

  1. The area was crowded with financial institutions since the Edo period (1603-1867), where there were many money-exchange businesses. As of 1880, there were 24 banks altogether in Tokyo, of which 20 were located in the former Nihonbashi-ku and 4 in the former Kyobashi-ku. In addition, the streets were busy with people and goods coming and going, making Nihonbashi the center of finance and commerce.
  2. At that time, Nihonbashi had ideal access to the Ministry of Finance and its Printing Bureau (currently the National Printing Bureau), both of which were situated in Otemachi, the district on the other side of the Tokiwa Bridge.
  3. Nihonbashi was a key transportation hub. It had waterways which allowed for the convenient transportation of construction materials needed to build the Main Building, and was also the starting point for major highways used during the Edo period.

Architectural Style

Prior to designing the Bank's Head Office, Dr. Tatsuno traveled to Europe and the United States to survey banking architecture there. During this time, he was influenced by Henri Beyaert, who designed the National Bank of Belgium, and made frequent surveying trips to the Bank of England. Given that Dr. Tatsuno also prepared the Bank's initial design draft while in London, it can be said that he used these banks as models for the Bank.

Order and dignity are expressed in the classical exterior of the building. The colonnade on the ground floor of the courtyard is in the Doric style, while the coupled columns extending from the second to third floors of the façade, courtyard, and west side of the building are Corinthian. In addition, a central dome crowns the façade.

Exterior

The outer wall uses a structure in which exterior stones are stacked on interior bricks. As for the types of stones, granite is used for the underground and ground floors, and andesite is used on the upper floors.

In the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, although the building was unaffected by the quake itself, a fire that started in the neighborhood eventually reached the Bank, and the symbolic central dome and some of the floors suffered fire damage. The current dome is a reconstruction of the original.

Interior Facilities

Advanced facilities at that time, such as elevators and flush toilets, were installed in the Main Building. Many imported items were also used for the fireproof shutters and the steel window frames.

Total Construction Cost

Due mainly to inflation and the need for additional work during the construction period, the total construction cost jumped from the initial budget of 800,000 yen by 40 percent, reaching approximately 1,120,000 yen.

Image of the Two Lions

Image of the Two Lions

There is a bronze keystone at the arch of the former front gates of the Main Building. Two roaring male lions are standing on their hind legs on six senryobako -- a chest used to store, save, and carry coins in the Edo period -- and holding up the crest (designed by Kikuchi Chutaro, a renowned sculptor at the time) of the Bank, which was developed from an ancient form of the kanji (Chinese pictograph) meaning "sun," the character used in the Japanese name for Japan (Nippon), and also the symbol of the Bank.

In addition, similar decorations are placed on the doors of the East Gate and the arch of the South Gate. They were made in the early Showa period (1926-89).

Red Carpet Corridor with Portraits of Former Governors

On the second floor of the Main Building, portraits of the former governors -- from the first governor Yoshihara Shigetoshi to the 26th governor Mieno Yasushi -- are displayed along the corridor. All the portraits displayed were burned down in the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, therefore those currently displayed are reproductions of the originals. The portraits of Yoshihara Shigetoshi (the first governor), Tomita Tetsunosuke (the second), Kawada Koichiro (the third), Matsuo Shigeyoshi (the sixth), and Mishima Yataro (the eighth) were reproduced from photographs as they had already deceased.

Related Pages

For videos showing historical images of the Bank's branch buildings in their early days, see Video: The Bank's Branches Designed by TATSUNO Kingo and NAGANO Uheiji.