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Former Kaichi school – a national treasure of Japan

Matsumoto is the only place in Japan where two of the national treasures reside: Matsumoto castle and the Former Kaichi school. As they are a mere ten-minute walk apart from one another, you should visit both if you are ever in Matsumoto. You can enjoy the co-starring of early modern and modern national treasures building.

The architectural design of the school is a harmonious blend of Japanese and Western styles and symbolizes aspects of the Meiji-era civilization. While at first glance the white building with an octagonal tower looks like a European-style building, the traditional Japanese architecture characteristics  are clearly evident in such motifs as dragon carvings.

Construction of the Former Kaichi school was begun in May 1873 by carpenters of Matsumoto. The cost to build the school was nearly eleven thousand yen. 70% of construction costs were provided via donations from residents of Matsumoto. 

The school was completed in April 1876 and remained in continuous use as a school until March 1963. In its 90-year history of activity, the school served as an elementary, junior high, and women’s school as well as a teacher’s college. The former Kaichi school, one of Japan’s oldest elementary schools, represents the dawn of modern education in Japan.

On 23 March, 1961 it was designated an important cultural asset of modern school architecture. Between January 1963 and August 1964, the school building was moved, from its original location near the Metoba river, to its current location. This school has been restored, to the extent possible, to resemble its original appearance.

In April 1965, the Former Kaichi school building was re-purposed as a museum of education. On 30 December, 2019 the Former Kaichi school was designated a national treasure of Japan.

  • Admission hours: 9:00 ~ 17:00 (Last entrance 16:30)
  • Closed: New Years (12/29 ~ 1/3) ; 3rd Monday of each month from March to November (The following day when Monday  is a public holiday) ; Every Monday from December to February (The following day when Monday is a public holiday)
  • Entrance fee: Individual: Adult 400 Yen

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