The Oriental Hotel in Kobe

Foreboding storm clouds gather in this atmospheric view of the Oriental Hotel, taken from our exhibition of Japanese postcards on Capital Collections.

The Oriental Hotel, KobeThe Oriental Hotel is one of the oldest and most famous hotels in Japan. It also has one of the most bizarre and difficult histories.

The hotel opened in 1870 in the Kobe Settlement, a self-governing district. Kobe was the area where foreigners stayed and settled; the Japanese could not enter. Kobe Settlement was designed by British civil engineer J.W. Hart and constructed on the basis of modern European city planning. It was praised as the most beautiful and well-planned area in Asia.

The hotel was first built at number 79, then moved to number 80 in 1888. The building was burned down by fire in the 1890s but rebuilt at number 6 on the seafront, (as shown in the postcard dated 1907). This building was destroyed by a bomb attack during World War II in 1945, before being reconstructed at the same place.

The hotel moved to number 25 during the Tokyo Olympic Games in 1964. Disaster struck again in 1995 when the building was destroyed by a huge earthquake . However, it was once again rebuilt and reopened in 2010.

The postcard offers a nostalgic view of the past to foreign eyes but for the Japanese, who could not enter this area, the hotel represented a different world from their daily lives.

Discover many more fascinating views of Japan during the first half of the 20th century in our Japanese Postcards exhibition.


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