The Old Public Hall

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The Old Public Hall of the Hakodate Ward was built in 1910 after a fire destroyed half of Hakodate. Much of the rebuildnig costs came from Mr. Teppei Soma, who’s house we visited later. It was fascinating to see a Japanese building of the Meiji era built in the Western style.

This building houses some interesting photography equipment, and you can see how I managed to hold my camera when my left hand was not functioning properly. It was a good thing I had opted to just use my smallest lens for the whole trip, as I would not have been able to hold my zoom lens still.

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The rooms were extravagently furnished, and although Western in style, the Japanese touch was still evident.

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The house has a Haikara Costume Gallery where ladies can dress up in a ballgown of the period and have their hair and makeup done. We discovered this on meeting some ladies in the beautiful Concert Hall.

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The other curiousity of this building was the Emperor’s Toilet, built for the visit of Crown Prince Yoshihito in August 1911. You may like to know that under the toilet was placed a pull-out box containing sand and cedar leaves. After the Crown Prince had used the toilet, this box was taken by the chamberlain to the court physician for inspection.

The area outside this building is green and lush, even in the rain, and the building looks out towards Hakodate harbour.

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© Helen Gray 2020