The Former British Consulate in Shimonoseki was established in Akama-cho in September 1901 and was the first consulate in Shimonoseki. At the time of its establishment, a small Japanese-style house that had been a shop was being used as a temporary consulate, so a new building was constructed and the consulate moved to this location in December 1906. This is the oldest building in Japan constructed as a consulate, and it was designated an important cultural property in 1999 as a classic example of a foreign diplomacy facility from the Meiji period (1868–1912). Ernest Mason Sato, a British Minister Plenipotentiary to Japan, advised establishing a consulate in Japan. He wrote in a confidential document to Japan that Moji Port and Shimonoseki Port, with the straits between them, are essential ports, and that it was necessary to station a consul at one of them and conduct shipping work with the aim of protecting trade at the other. This document that gave thought to the development of commerce is said to have determined the establishment of a consulate in the Kanmon region. Frank William Walter Playfair became the first British consul in Shimonoseki in 1901, and Angus MacDonald served as the shipping commissioner. Playfair had jurisdiction over Yamaguchi, Hiroshima, Fukuoka, and Oita, and also conducted consulate duties for Austria-Hungary. With the establishment of the British Consulate, the 7 other countries, of Austria-Hungary, Norway, Germany, the United States, Sweden, Portugal, and the Netherlands carried out consulate duties in Shimonoseki up until the war. The shipping commissioner traveled between Moji and Shimonoseki, and worked in a borrowed rented office in Moji. Work went forward through aAn acting consul worked here from 1922, but the duties were concluded in 1940 due to the deterioration in affairsrelations. The consulate in existence today was designed by William Cowan , the head architectural engineer for His Majesty’s Office of Works Shanghai Office who was also involved in designing the British Consulate in Nagasaki. The 1st floor of the 2-story brick main building was a working space housing the consulate’s office, shipping commissioner’s office, waiting room, and secretary’s office. The 2nd floor was used for living quarters for the shipping commissioner and had 2 bedrooms, 1 living room, a bathroom, a storage closet, and a pantry. The kitchen was in the annex used by employees. At the time, the 1st-floor working space and 2nd floor were completely separated, and you could not directly go between the floors. The manner in which the building was used is clearly understood, and the fact that both the consulate and annex from that time still remain is invaluable. It is appreciated as a cultural property that is an exemplary facility for foreign diplomacy in the Meiji period. In addition, the high walls dividing the compound from the outside have also been designated an important cultural property. The designer was William Cowan, head architectural engineer for His Majesty’s Office of Works Shanghai Office. He also was involved in designing the British Consulate in Nagasaki.
Address：4-11 Karato-cho, Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture
Hours : 9:00ー17:00
Closed : Tuesdays (open when Tuesday falls on a national holiday)
Fee : Free
Category: Constituent cultural properties
Genre: Story 1,2