Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation Osaka Head Office Building

Discover the attractiveness of the Sumitomo Building, one of the grandest and most beautiful modern buildings in Japan.

Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation Osaka Head Office Building

Alluring depth with shafts of light through series of windows

This imposing building, whose walls of cream-colored stone are punctuated by a series of stately windows, overlooks the Tosabori River, seamlessly blending with its surroundings. The Sumitomo Building (present-day Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation Osaka Head Office Building) where former Sumitomo Head Office and affiliated companies were based is generously proportioned, extending 74 meters east to west and 84 meters south to north. The first phase of construction was completed in 1926 (15th year of the Taisho era) and the second phase in 1930 (5th year of the Showa era). Each of the three entrances, facing north, east, and west respectively, features magnificent Tatsuyamaishi*1 stone columns of the Ionic order. The thick walls fully reveal the attractiveness of the natural stone, with its gradations of color, texture and tone. Shafts of light entering through the series of deep-set, tall, oblong windows conjure up an alluring sense of depth in the building’s interior, creating a dignified yet simple impression.

*1 Rhyolitic tuff from Tatsuyama, Iho-cho, Takasago City, Hyogo Prefecture

Restrained classical aesthetics with an ornamental flourish of bronze work

Unlike the other three sides of the building, the south-facing side overlooking a narrow street features series of medallions and arched windows, imparting an atmosphere of classical restraint to the building. According to the initial plan, the steel-frame, steel-reinforced, concrete Sumitomo Building designed by the Construction Department of Sumitomo Goshi Kaisha (limited partnership) was to have had seven stories. However, the Great Kanto Earthquake devastated Tokyo in 1923 during construction, prompting Kichizaemon Tomoito, the 15th head of the Sumitomo family, to issue instructions for the number of floors to be reduced to five. (The present-day refurbished building has six floors.) As befits a building of Sumitomo, in whose history the Besshi Copper Mines figure so prominently, the principal gates, lighting fixtures, and gargoyles*2 are of intricately worked bronze, endowing the classical rigor of the building with an ornamental flourish.

*2 A spout in the form of a grotesque beast etc. through which rainwater is carried away

Elegant lobby with numerous columns

In contrast to the rather austere exterior, on entering the building the magnificence of the interior is awe-inspiring. Particularly grand in conception is the bank’s hall on the first floor with 31 Corinthian columns supporting the 12-meter-high ceiling. All the elements—the warm glow of polished travertine*3 marble, the black marble counter with its acanthus motif, and the geometric design of the ceiling—combine to create a hall of superlative elegance. This building, one of the grandest and most beautiful modern buildings in Japan, survived the war and is currently used as the Osaka Head Office of Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation.

*3 Inorganic limestone with striped patterns and small indentations

Architectural data

First phase (north side) in April 1926 (15th year of the Taisho era)
Second phase (south side) in August 1930 (5th year of the Showa era)
Design and construction
Construction Department of Sumitomo Goshi Kaisha; Obayashi Design
Yutaka Hidaka
Elevation (exterior and interior and exterior finishing)
Eikichi Hasebe
Plan view (floor plan and machinery & equipment)
Kenzo Takekoshi
Structural drawing
Kajinosuke Mitsuyasu
4-6-5 Kitahama, Chuo-ku, Osaka City