Former Miyakonojo City Public Hall, and Toshinobu Suda


This is a preliminary research for creating a pop-up card.
I am researching the buildings of Miyakonojo City, Miyazaki Prefecture.

As the buildings in Miyakonojo City, the Miyakonojo Civic Hall (built in 1966, designed by Kiyonori Kikutake) is famous for its postwar architecture.

The photo was borrowed from Google Street View.
In 2007, Miyakonojo City announced a plan to demolish the building of civi hall, but after that, Minami-Kyushu Gakuen offered to rent the building free of charge, it was decided that the building would survive for the time being.

In reading those articles, I found a description that “before the civic hall was built, there was the Miyakonojo City Public Hall". If it was built before the Civic Hall, it must be built before World War II.

So I started to research about the former Miyakonojo City Public Hall.
(I posted a picture of the civic hall above, but I am talking about a different building than that, sorry.)

However, it was not easy to find. The first photo I found was taken after the completion of the Kikutake-designed Civic Hall, and it showed the side view of the public hall. I heard that it was also called “Suda Memorial Hall" at that time, but I do not know the origin of that name.

Since those who write articles related to Miyakonojo Civic Hall are all interested in the preservation of the Kikutake-designed civic hall, they rarely describe the public hall that preceded it and no longer exists.

I found a prewar postcard on Yahoo! Auctions through an image search. So I was finally able to see the front of the building. 

In addition, I found a photo with an obvious source in the Digital Collections of the National Diet Library.
In 1935, a special large-scale army drill was held in Miyakonojo. A book titled “The record of Army Special Exercise and the Emperor’s Visit to Miyakonojo in 1935" was published in 1937.
In the book, there was the following photograph.

The caption said, “Miyakonojo City Public Hall (used for banquets held  of the Prince Kan’in Kotohito).

However, there is no mention of when the building was built.


I started researching again yesterday, and found an article that says there is a “Monument of the origin of the Miyakonojo City General Social Welfare Center" in Miyakonojo City. (This is the facebook page of the Miyakonojo City Braille Library, written in Japanese.)

According to the article, a doctor of engineering named Toshinobu Suda donated the site where he was born and 50,000 yen to the city in 1927. The city built a public hall, which later became known as the Suda Memorial Hall. 

Finally, I found Mr. Suda’s full name.
Toshinobu Suda (1856-1925). After working for the Ministry of Industry and the Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce, he joined NYK and eventually served as vice president of NYK. (From the Digital Version of the Dictionary of Japanese Biography Plus)

Since he died in 1925, I think that he probably willed a donation and his bereaved family made a donation to the city.

I found out that it was built in 1927, but the year of demolition is unknown.
I heard that it was demolished after the current civic hall was built…but when was it demolished?

When I was looking for it, I found an article in the public relations magazine of the Miyakonojo City Council of Social Welfare, “Go! Go! Chiiki", No. 48 (issued on June 15, 2014), a picture was on the cover.
The magazine is available in PDF format, but I have cropped out the relevant part as an image.

There is a photo of the Suda Memorial Hall taken in 1983. Since the welfare center was built in April 1984, I think the demolition of the memorial hall must be in 1983.
Finally, I found the year of construction and the year of demolition.

Former Miyakonojo City Public Hall
Built in 1927 and demolished in 1983.

However, there are not many writings about Mr. Toshinobu Suda on the Internet.
The following is a summary of the text about Toshinobu Suda written in a prewar book for reference.
(Reference: “Nihon Directories: Gotaiten Kinen" edited by Ihei Kiyota, Kouin Tsushinsha editorial department, 1915.
“How are the famous persons in the business world? Vol. 1" by Jogawa Yumoto, Business and People Company, 1924)
(each books are written in Japanese.)

Toshinobu Suda was born in Miyazaki Prefecture. He went to Tokyo in 1873 to study English and later entered the Faculty of Engineering at Imperial University. Graduated in 1879 with a bachelor’s degree in engineering. In 1881, he joined the Ministry of Telecommunications, where he worked in the Ship Management Bureau.
In 1887, NYK decided to order ships from England, and he became an employee of NYK and went to England. He studied shipbuilding for five years there. After returning to Japan, he became manager of the Yokohama branch, and at last he became vice president. In 1897, he became a doctor of engineering. His knowledge of shipbuilding was said to be excellent.

He seemed to be a scholarly man, and one of his subordinates at NYK said, “sometimes he hardly spoke to employees all day."  And “a man who was feared by some because even if he spoke occasionally, he would say nothing but damned serious things".
But in fact, however, he was a man of strong human feelings, he loved his apprentices and took good care of his students.



In the minutes of the Miyakonojo City Council meeting, there was a statement about the origin of the public hall. (September 19, 2007)
According to it

(1) The completion of the Miyakonojo City Public Hall was on November 3, 1927.
(2) The Miyakonojo Civic Hall opened on April 1, 1966.
(3) On September 16, 1967, the old public hall was reopened as the Suda Memorial Hall.
(4) In June 1979, a petition was filed to preserve the Suda Memorial Hall. (Another person, conversely, requested that a new building be constructed at this location.)
(5) In 1982, a resolution was passed to plan the welfare center project and abolish the Suda Memorial Hall.

This was the process.
It was after the civic hall was completed that it was named Suda Memorial Hall.

Historical material

Posted by Sakyo K.