Pałac ślubów w Imari. Fot. Google Maps

Gdansk Główny train station in Japan? The country of the Blossoming Cherry has a copy of it

The Chinese are famous for copying many things. Counterfeit products from well-known brands bearing the Made in China label can be found in every corner of the world. However, the people of this Asian country have gone a step further and are no longer just reproducing clothing and electronics, but are now erecting famous European monuments and even entire urban complexes at home. In China, you can visit, for example, the Parthenon, the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, Stonehenge, even Venice or typical English and Austrian towns! They were followed by the Japanese, who built a copy of Gdańsk Główny railway station. However, the building does not serve travellers, but is used as… a wedding palace. a wedding palace.

In the town of Imari, located on the island of Kiusius in southern Japan, there is a building which bears a striking resemblance to the main railway station in Gdansk. The Asian copy was built more than 80 years after the opening of its Baltic Sea original. The idea of moving the Polish landmark to the Land of the Rising Sun, more than 8 000 kilometres away, was born in the 1980s.

Japanese copy of the railway station. Photo: Google Maps

[Caption id=”attachment_234407″ align=”aligncenter” width=”1840″] Imari wedding palace. Photo Google Maps[/caption]

The representative and spacious Central Station was built between 1894 and 1900 in the style of the so-called “Danzig Renaissance”. The station building and tower were built of brick and richly decorated with sandstone from Wartkowice. The layout of the building and its furnishings corresponded to the latest developments and requirements of the time. The edifice was set on fire in 1945 and continued to serve the town’s residents after reconstruction. In the 1960s, the idea of demolishing the building and replacing it with a modernist block emerged. Fortunately, the controversial vision remained only on paper. The building has been welcoming visitors to Gdańsk for well over a century.

Neo-Renaissance Danzig railway station from 1896-1900 on a lithographic postcard sent on 26.07.1906. Publisher: Kunstanstalt J. Miesler. Berlin S.

In 1983, a Japanese railway newspaper carried an article about the Danzig railway station, accompanied by a large photograph of the monument. Businessman Shigemi Yoshida, who was on a business trip by train, came across the periodical. The building so impressed the man that he decided to build a replica. Yoshida was one of the directors of the ‘Memorido’ company, which was in the business of running wedding palaces. The company already owned three such facilities and was just about to try to build a fourth. The photograph of the Polish railway station became the inspiration. It was no small problem to obtain suitable materials from which to design the building. In the early 1980s, it was practically impossible for a Japanese citizen to obtain architectural plans of the Gdańsk station.

Gdańsk Główny railway station and its Japanese copy in Imari. Photo by Diego Delso, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons and Google Maps

In the absence of any material, Yoshida sent a friend of his who toiled as a painter to Gdansk. The man went on a long journey and made the necessary sketches. In addition, the Japanese painter bought all the albums he could find of the brick building on Podwale Grodzkie Street from local bookshops. During the communist period, it was forbidden to photograph railway buildings, and breaking it, especially for a foreigner, risked severe sanctions.

Copy of the railway station – wedding palace in Imari. Google Maps photo

Soon the materials acquired in Poland were sent to an architect named Hiro Shirakawa, who prepared a building design based on them. The ceremonial opening of the copy of the Gdansk station took place in 1984. The event was attended by distinguished guests, including the Polish ambassador to Japan, Japanese MP Tokuo Yamashita and the president of the Polish-Japanese Friendship Society. The building has served as a wedding palace since its construction until today. In later years, an additional building with a chapel was erected in front of the building’s facade, which partially covered the palace and disturbed its perception.

Interior of the wedding palace. Photo

The Japanese replica of the Gdansk railway station was created on the basis of not entirely precise data, such as hand-drawn sketches or a few photographs in poor quality, so the buildings differ. In fact, only the façade and the tower directly relate to the monument, the rest of the building is a loose interpretation of the Danzig Neo-Renaissance. Nevertheless, the story of a copy of a Polish monument on the other side of the world proves that Asians never cease to surprise us.


Read also: Architecture | Japan | Curiosities | Gdansk | whiteMAD on Instagram

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