Hyogo: Former Town Hall Revives Pre-War Nostalgia; Century-Old Building Is Still Beloved by Locals, Tourists

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Flagstones form attractive geometric patterns around the Taisho Roman Kan building, formerly the Sasayama town hall, in Tamba-Sasayama, Hyogo Prefecture.

TAMBA-SASAYAMA, Hyogo — The old Sasayama town hall in Tamba-Sasayama, Hyogo Prefecture, which was built in 1923, is still loved by locals for the way it brings a piece of the Taisho era (1912-26) into the present day.

Popular culture flourished during the years of the Taisho era, so these years are widely thought of as an exciting and happy time, in stark contrast to the subsequent years when the country rushed headlong into World War II.

The old town hall, now called Taisho Roman Kan (Taisho romantic house), sits at the heart of the city, where it served as the town hall for about 70 years until 1992. Since 1993, the building has been used as a tourist facility selling local products. The wooden structure has a distinctive shape with a complexly-layered roof. The main entrance is in the center section, with two more doorways to its left and right. On the rooftop is a fire watchtower which looks out over the whole town. The building was closed for two months last year to undergo major renovations, during which new merchandise display tables and sofas were set up in the facility.

The stately air of this city landmark has never faded. “In an area that’s full of farmhouses, a building that looks as nice as this one really stands out, so it was everyone’s dream to work at the town hall,” said an 85-year-old local woman who remembers when it used to be the town’s municipal government office.