SAN KI RO
A high-class restaurant and social club in Moji
San Ki Ro is one of the places I wanted to visit in Moji in Northern Kyushu, since it a famed Japanese restaurant and it was a well known social club for people from the financial and the political world in the good old days of the early 20th century.
Japan's industrial revolution started in this area in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. At that time, San Ki Ro was already known as a social club for leaders from the financial and political world.
Unfortunately when I visited, the restaurant was fully booked and I had to give up on having an authentic Japanese meal there.
It wasn't a wasted trip, however. A lady guide kindly showed me around the building to explain its history and cultural value. SAN KI RO was originally founded in 1911, but it was rebuilt as a stately wooden building in 1931. It has three stories. There is a restaurant on the 1st floor, a large function room on the 2nd and the "Haiku Room" (a Japanese verse form of seventeen syllables) on the 3rd.
A large function room the 2nd floor is elegant, spacious and bright with many windows, which is unusual for the Japanese style rooms. It has a stage where dance performances by Geishas and even Noh plays were performed. You can see that all the windows, doorways, columns and ceilings are technically sophisticated and elaborate designs are composed in every item. Quality wooden materials that we never see in modern houses are used all over the building.
SAN KI RO was often used for receptions, feasts and various other events. It was also a place where people could come to appreciate the Geishas' beautiful dance performances.
However, SAN KI RO once faced a crisis of demolition and disposal of sale as they could not keep up with the time. The demand for elegant Japanese restaurants like SAN KI RO (Ryotei which focused maily on meetings, receptions and parties) had declined around 1960s .
This was especially true in cities like Northern Kyushu, whose business and industrial importance had gradually faded and many of these were forced to go out of business. Although SAN KI RO avoided demolition, it closed its doors for business around 1960s and sat idle for years.
However, many of the local people regarded it as an important cultural asset, and wanted to set the building preserved.
In time, local volunteer groups launched a campaign to collect signatures to restore SAN KI RO and started to raise money for that purpose. They raised a total of Yen 20 million and got 16,000 signatures in one year alone.
Thanks to their exploits, they acquired the ownership of SAN KI RO. It was donated to Kitakyushu City, which set out an extensive repair work program. SAN KI RO was opened to the public in 2014.
Thus SAN KI RO was revived by dedicated efforts of eight groups of citizens who love Mojio. It symbolizes Moji's glorious history.
SAN KI ROU
3-6-8 Kiyotaki, Moji-ku, Kitakyushu-shi, Fukuoka Pref.
8 minutes walk from JR MOJIKO station.
Open from 10 to 17:00
Closed on Mondays