Tokyo Stroll Supplement: Imperial Palace / Kōkyo
This page is for corrections and additions to the Imperial Palace / Kōkyo chapter of Tokyo Stroll. Updates will be announced on my blog.
Hibiya Matsumotorō (日比谷松本楼)
The Hibiya Matsumotorō was founded 1903, the same year as Hibiya Park opened
The Pan no Kai, or Pan Society, an important group of writers, actors, and artists who wished to transform the arts of Japan, held its first meeting at the restaurant. Among the noted customers who frequented the restaurant were Takamura Kōtarō and Natsume Sōseki. Another visitor was Sun Yat-sen, who discussed plans there for the Chinese revolution with his friend Umeya Shōkichi.
Please excuse a digression about this interesting relationship. In 1882 when he was 14 Umeya went to Shanghai where he was robbed and turned to working at the docks to survive. His experience of the mistreatment of Chinese workers by the British led him to support Chinese independence from foreign powers. After that trip he returned to Japan to shortly again travel overseas where he would live for many years. In 1895 Umeya met Sun Yat-sen in Hong Kong, both were in their late 20s at this time, and their friendship began. Upon returning to Japan in 1905 with a fortune he had made overseas, as well as a reputation for supporting revolutionary activities, Umeya founded the movie company M. Pathe. He would use income from that and other projects project to help fund anti-Manchu revolutionaries. When he was in exile in 1913 Sun Yat-sen was introduced to Soong Ching-Lin by Umeya and his wife Toku and in time the two exiles were wed in the Umeya's home. Umeya would in 1933 get in trouble with the Japanese nationalists and be branded a traitor for his support of peace in China. He would, in 1934, be asked to be an unofficial emissary to China by the Japanese foreign minister but died before he could make the trip. At the funeral Umeya's casket was draped in both the Japanese and Chinese flags. By the way Umeya's grand-daughter would later marry Kosaka Tetsuro who owned the restaurant. The current owner is Kosaka Ayano Umeya's great-grandson.
During the allied Occupation of Japan the restaurant, which was also the home of the owners, was converted into living quarters for U.S. officers until 1951. During that time the owners slept in a storeroom in the building and had to carry special identification to leave and return as that portion of the park was under direct US control.
In 1971, Hibiya Matsumotorō was destroyed by arson during the violent protests around provisions in the Okinawa Reversion Treaty that returned the islands to Japanese control. A new restaurant was built and opened in September 1973. Every year, to commemorate the reopening, on September 25 a 10-yen curry charity sale is held as a fundraising event for charity where every donation over 10 yen gets you a plate of curry.
The current restaurant includes private rooms, banquet halls, on the third floor a French restaurant, and there is an outdoor terrace dining area. Seating is Western style and the restaurant is non-smoking. WEB: http://www.matsumotoro.co.jp
Created May 26, 2022 | Content last updated June 19, 2022