Kumamoto: 19th Century American Teacher’s House Open to Public after Quake

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Janes’ residence, made open to the public after the completion of relocation and reconstruction work

KUMAMOTO — A 19th-century Western-style building that collapsed during a pair of powerful earthquakes that hit Kumamoto Prefecture in 2016 has been relocated and reconstructed.

The building opened to the public this month after a 7-year hiatus and admission is free through the end of March next year.

Affectionately called the Janes’ residence, the building was constructed to welcome American educator Leroy Lansing Janes to the Kumamoto Western School in Kumamoto.

While teaching a curriculum entirely in English of arithmetic, geography and various other subjects, Janes grew lettuce and cauliflower with imported seeds from the United States and introduced Western culture, such as baking bread.

The Janes’ residence was originally built near Kumamoto Castle in 1871. It was then relocated to a site near the Suizenji Jojuen Garden in the city in 1970. However, the building was totally destroyed in the 2016 earthquakes, with its roof twisted clockwise and pillars broken.

The Western-style building was relocated and restored to a corner of Suizenji Ezuko Park at a cost of about ¥600 million, or about $4 million. Some of the pillars and beams from the old building were reused.