Andersen considering pulling down A-bombed building

Local bakery, Andersen, is considering pulling down the building which has housed its flagship store on Hondori since 1967. The building is of particular interest because it is one of the structures that survived the A-bombing, designated as “A-bombed Buildings”, that still remain in Hiroshima.

Andersen on the Hondori shopping arcade, which doubles as the honorary consulate of Denmark, is a popular place to pick up a little something to take to a dinner party or enjoy a nice coffee while watching shoppers go by through its large windows, is a Hiroshima landmark.

The building, which dates from 1925 is one of Hiroshima’s “A-bombed Buildings”. Serving as a branch of the Imperial Bank when the bomb dropped, the roof, ceilings, as well as the lives of around 20 staff, were lost in the blast. However, much of the reinforced concrete building remained intact – in fact there was some discussion as to whether this building, rather than the Industrial Promotion Hall (now known as the A-bomb Dome), should be preserved as a memorial.

In the end, the building was once again used a bank until 1967, when it was bought by Hiroshima based Takaki Bakery. Inspired by the repurposing of historical buildings the president had seen in Europe, the company chose to use the retain features of the original building – such as the original 2nd floor window frames – rather than completely rebuild it.

This week, however, company announced that it is considering tearing down the building and replacing it with a new flagship store ahead of the company’s 70th anniversary in 2018. Andersen has cited the prohibitive cost of strengthening measures to protect the building in the event of strong earthquake as the reason for pulling down the historic building. ¥150 million was spent on strengthening its pillars ten years ago, but the company says that, in light of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, it feels that further measures should be taken.

In March this year, another of the city’s more distinctive structures which survived the A-bombing, the Sumitomo Bank building near Hiroshima Station, was pulled down as part of the “B Block Redevelopment Project” to make way for shops and parking next to a 52 storey building which will house yet another electronics superstore and apartments.

The JapanTimes reports that Hiroshima had 86 registered A-bomb-hit structures as of July 1 this year, down 10 percent from the peak in fiscal 1996.

Paul Walsh

Paul arrived in Hiroshima "for a few months" back in 1996. He is the co-founder of and loves running in the mountains.