Following the Meiji Restoration, the government
pursued a bold policy of industrial modernization. As domestic demand for steel
grew, the government decided to tackle the ultimate challenge–a Western-style
modern factory complex to manufacture high quality steel and steel products.
The site of such a complex had to have easy access to coal, transportation, water,
and labor, and it had to be relatively safe from earthquakes. Proximity to the
Chikuho coal field–Japan’s most productive coal deposit–as well
as enthusiastic campaigning by local interests, tipped the balance in favor of
the village of Yahata in present-day Kitakyushu.
The ignition of Higashida Blast Furnace No. 1 in 1901 was a milestone in the history of modern Japan. The state-owned Yawata Steel Works soon emerged as a modern integrated steel mill, and it grew rapidly through three planned expansions, adding new blast furnaces and factories, along with such infrastructure as the Kawachi Reservoir, and boosting production dramatically in the process. It spawned numerous other industries in the Kitakyushu area, and this industrial belt played a key role in the rise of modern Japan.
* First Head Office *
First Head Office under construction (1899)
The first Head Office, total floor space 1,023 square meter, built in 1899, was the command center of Yawata Steel Works, housing the director’s and consultant engineer’s offices and other central offices. It is a two-story red brick building with a symmetrical facade, crowned by a central domed cupola. The roof is Japanese tile, while the brickwork is laid in the pattern known as English bond. It functioned as the head office for Yawata Steel Works until 1922.
Nowadays, the office building is not opened for public because it is located on a premise of Nippon Steel Co, Yawata Works and the building has become too older.
* Former Blacksmith Factory *
Former Blacksmith Factory
The Smithy, built in 1900, was designed by the German firm Gutehoffnungshütte,
which also provided the steel for construction. Equipped with a 350 ton hydraulic
press–extremely large for that time–it was built to forge iron and steel equipment
needed for the construction of the steel mill. It is a steel-frame structure
with a ridge length of 55 meters, a span of 15 meters, and an eaves height of
7.4 meters. Today it serves as the archives, preserving some 40,000 invaluable
items pertaining to the founding and history of Yawata Steel Works, including
documents, glass-plate photos and other photographic images, and entrance signs,
as well as steel rails and other products.
* Repair Factory *
As with the Former Blacksmith Factory, the Repair Factory was designed and constructed in 1900 by the German firm Gutehoffnungshütte which also provided the steel for construction. It was a major facility at the Yawata Steel Works, and was used for repairing machines and for processing and assembling materials.
The building was steel framed and was 50 meters long, 30 meters wide and 11.5 meters high. It was expanded by 20 meters in length in 1905 and again in 1908, and by another 50 meters in 1917 resulting in the current length of the structure of 140 meters. As expanded, the design and materials of the building were adapted from Germany to Japan and it is the essential steel frame structure that represents the development process of Japan’s iron and steel making technology. It is also the oldest existing steel frame structure in Japan, and still in operation as a repair factory today. The site is not open to public.
* Onga River Pumping Station *
Onga River Pumping Station
The Onga River Pumping Station was built on the east bank of the Onga River in 1910 when the Yawata Steel Works was in the process of its first expansion. The pumping station was used as a water resource and water-delivery facility for steel production at the Yawata Steel Works. The building was mainly made of red brick in the English laying style and partially slag brick. As the north and south windows had different shapes, the pumping station was considered a well-designed structure with pillars and windows arranged beautifully and with an interior akin to a church. The steel frame roof structure with steel frames still retains the same design features as when it was built.
The pumping station is 38 meters long, 22.5 meters wide and 7.4 meters high. Initially, there was company housing, coal storage and chimneys surrounding the pumping station but today only the structure connecting the boiler room and the pumping room, and the settling basin still exist. The original steam pumps and boilers installed when it started operation were imported from the UK, but replaced with electric pumps in the 1950s. The pumping station still today supplies 30% of the industrial water needed for steel production at the Yawata Steel Works. The site is not open to public.