Old buildings restored with traditional skills and modern methods

‘Masabuki’ work being carried out on the former Kondo’s Dyeing Shop. The craftsmen use hammers and hatchets to rectify small distortions and misalignment, nailing each wooden tile one by one
A 14-m-high relief on the former Otaru Shimbun Building being restored by craftsmen

Large-scale renovation work is being carried out on the ‘former Kondo’s Dyeing Shop’ and the ‘former Otaru Shimbun Building’ (newspaper company) at the Historical Village of Hokkaido, an open-air museum where precious Hokkaido buildings are relocated, restored or reproduced. Almost all of the work is being carried out by Hokkaido craftsmen and women, combining traditional techniques with modern technology. According to the person responsible for the work, “This is a trial project in anticipation of future maintenance.”

Yamazaki Construction Firm (Sapporo), atelier aku co., LTD. (Sapporo), and Takebe Kensetsu Co. Ltd. (Mikasa) have all submitted technical proposals for the project being undertaken by the Hokkaido government.

The former Kondo’s Dyeing Shop business had been in operation since 1898, and the building that was relocated to the museum is a store cum residence that was built in 1913. The ‘masabuki-style’ roof, which was the norm for commoners’ houses built in the day, is being renovated.

 Masabuki roofing is a technique that uses metal nails to fix 3-mm-thick tiles, made from Sakhalin fir or Yezo spruce. Hokkaido builders are carrying out the work using eastern white pine grown in the town of Biratori, which has been heat treated to improve durability.
The former Otaru Shimbun Building was built in 1909 and has Sapporo soft stone affixed to the exterior walls. The construction work mainly involves plastering the building’s interior and repairing the soft stone. Soft stone absorbs water and is difficult to manage in Hokkaido, where temperatures drop in winter. The work is done by hand, injecting resin into cracks and broken parts and applying repair materials, the colors of which are tweaked to match each section.
According to the managing director of Takebe Kensetsu Co., Ltd., “The builders’ skills, which are not used in modern housing, are demonstrated to the full. I hope people will pay attention to the details.”
The structures, including the interior displays, are scheduled to reopen to the public around March 2023.


Historical Village of Hokkaido