Okayama: Base of Alcohol Temperance Movement Marks 100 Years

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Okayama Kinshu Kaikan building

OKAYAMA — The historical landmark of an Okayama-based organization that promotes abstinence from alcohol marked its centennial in February.

Much of the building’s exterior remains as it was when the structure was built in the early 20th century, and the facility still serves as the base of operations for the group’s temperance activities.

A temperance movement spread nationwide in the late 19th century and beyond as an increasing number of people turned to alcohol to escape from social problems such as recession.

Okayama Kinshu Kaikan (Okayama alcohol abstinence hall) opened on Feb. 25, 1923, after a temperance league was formed in Okayama Prefecture.

The exterior of the three-story wooden building is characterized by a traditional Western-style wall type known as a “German wall” that has bumps and dips on the surface, as well as white tile decoration. The building has a two-tiered sloping roof.

Inside the building, there was a dining room on the ground floor, a hall on the second floor and accommodations on the third floor.

The building, which survived an aerial strike in June 1945 during World War II, was registered as a national cultural property in 2002. The building is still used as a venue for counseling sessions on abstinence from alcohol. It has a coffee shop and bookstore, and live music is sometimes performed in the courtyard.

Problems exist that need to be addressed regarding maintenance, mainly due to a lack of funds for renovations to meet earthquake resistance standards.

“We hope to preserve both the building and our activities for future generations,” said an official with the building’s operator.