The Former Foreign Settlement (旧居留地)

The Former Foreign Settlement is the section of exterritoriality for foreigners built mainly based on the Ansei Five-Power Treaties. The Former Foreign Settlements in Yokohama City Kanagawa Prefecture, in Kobe City Hyogo Prefecture, in Nagasaki City, Nagasaki Prefecture and Osaka City Osaka Prefecture are famous.


For the further information, see the section of 'Kannai'.


For the further information, see the section of 'The Former Kawaguchi Foreign Settlement'.


The Former Foreign Settlement in Kobe was built on the isolated area, surrounded by Saigoku-kaido Road on the north, former Ikuta-gawa River (now Flower Road) on the east, Koikawasuji Road (now Koikawasuji Road) on the west, Port of Kobe on the south, designed by English engineer J.W.HART, who built neat western town on it. The atmosphere of the town changes once you cross the road still now, though the rivers on the east and west turned into the roads later.

The major Western-style buildings and modern architectures built in between Meiji Period and Early Showa era are illuminated from sundown till around 10 p.m. And Kobe Luminarie is taken place on Nakamachi-dori Street and Higashi-yuenchi Park every year in December.


It was the place of exterritoriality divided into 126 sections, having been auctioned for foreigners since 1868 to their return in 1899. Kitano-cho City Yamamoto-dori Street is where foreigners who had lived in The Former Foreign Settlement set up house in Yamate (the mountain side) later. Chinese abroad who came to Kobe from Qing with which Japan had not signed a treaty at that time, were not allowed to live in The Former Foreign Settlement, settling on its west side, building Chinatowns called Nanjing-machi Town (Kobe). These western sections were called Mixed Residential Area to The Former Foreign Settlement.

Preservation of the town

The perceptions of The Former Foreign Settlement was 'Business district of decrepit old buildings' until 1980, however, the preservation movement of Former Kobe Chamber of Commerce and Industry Building occurred in 1988 triggered the revitalization of the town. A department store Daimaru Kobe, which was in The Foreign Settlement, made the modern architecture it owned designed by William Merrell Vories into the shop as Live Lab West (now The Former Foreign Settlement 38th Building), opening up luxury boutiques aggressively in modern western architectures nearby, though Chamber of Commerce and Industry Building itself had been torn down. It changed the attitude of owners of modern architectures, making them aware that modern architectures are not dotting but existing as 'town' or 'area'. In 2000s, foreign brands such as LVMH joined directly, and now it is thriving as 'the town stylish and most Kobe-like '. It is particularly notable as the successful example of the collaboration between civic movement and commercial capital.

It was selected as the 100 City Landscape by Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism in 1992, and Association of The Former Foreign Settlement was awarded with Ishikawa Award of City Planning Institute of Japan, which was the top prize, in 2007.

The main buildings in The Former Foreign Settlement in Kobe.

Itomachi-suji Road
Higashimachi-suji Road
Japan Pearl Museum
Kitamachi-dori Street
Takasago Building, Kobe Bankers Association
Edocho-suji Road
Sankyoseiko Sky Building
Kyomachi-suji Road (main street)
Kobe Lamp Museum, Japan Bank Kobe Branch, New Crescent Building, Kobe City Museum, Kobe Building
Naniwamachi-suji Road
Kobe Asahi Building, LVMH Complex Building
Harimamachi-suji Road
The 45th, BLOCK30
Akashicho-suji Road
Nickel Building Dowa Kasai Kobe Branch
Nakamachi-dori Street
The Former Foreign Settlement 38th Building, Daimaru Kobe, Genius Gallery
Maemachi-dori Street
The Former Foreign Settlement 15th Building
Coast Street (National Route 2)
Chartered Building, Shinko Building, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Building, Coast Building

[Original Japanese]