旧開智学校Old Kaichi School
Year of construction: 1876 (Meiji 9)
Year of relocation: Unknown
Architect: Seiju Tateishi
Builder: Seiju Tateishi
“Pseudo-Western architecture”, such as the former Kaichi School, is a “mysterious Western-style building that is neither Japanese nor Western”, and was constructed by carpenters using traditional techniques and ingenuity. Many of these buildings were constructed in the early Meiji period. Among them, the former Kaichi School is highly regarded as a building that symbolizes the flowering of Japanese civilization, as a photograph of the school building was introduced at the World Exposition.
Seiju Tateishi, the master builder who was involved in the design and construction of the school, was born into a family of carpenters who had been working for generations in the castle town of Matsumoto, and had undertaken a wide range of work, from work for the shogunate to shrines and temples, as well as town houses for the common people. Prior to the construction of the school building, he went to Tokyo and Yokohama to study Western-style architecture, which was the latest at the time.
The plastering technique was used to create masonry on the exterior walls, and colored glass was used in the tower building to create a stained glass effect. The porch is decorated with carvings of dragons and clouds reminiscent of shrines and temples, and the roof is carved with an angel imitating the title logo of the Tokyo Nichinichi Shimbun newspaper and a spread out scroll with the name of the school written. Other decorations were applied to the entire building, such as the painted cast ironwork at the back of the balcony, the painted board door, and the tower building with its weatherboard pillars.
The school building was built near the Metoba River in 1876, and was used as a school there until 1963, when it was moved to the current location. In 2019, it became the first modern school building to be designated as a national treasure.