In 1928, Kamakura Bank opened an outpost in Yuigahama, a coastal town just south of Yokohama. The bank merged and became part of Bank of Yokohama in 1941, and was then shuttered the outpost in 1945. But its legacy lived on. The building miraculously survived the war, as well Japan’s penchant for scrapping and building.
The building was later discovered by art director Kaoru Watanabe, who recalls his discovery saying that he always imagined the structure as a bar, rather than a bank. Watanabe went on to become a legendary force in the Japanese design and fashion world. He was art director for Japanese Ivy league-inspired clothing brand VAN Jacket, one of the most influential brands in the 1960s and 70s. In the early 80s he established his own agency and directed advertising for Kirin Brewery, IDEE PARCO and CBS Sony, just to name a few.
In 2000, Watanabe teamed up with a young architect named Masamichi Katayama to renovate the old bank and turn it into a bar named “The Bank.” It was Katayama’s very first project as an independent architect after establishing his firm, Wonderwall. Katayama,, of course, went on to become a very successful architect.
Watanabe ran his bar for 15 years until he fell ill and passed away in 2015. The bar was forced to close but Katayama, who had remained good friends with Watanabe, couldn’t let the project become just a memory. “Till the very end he never wanted to close his bar,” says Katayama, who decided to not only give it a renovation but to renew the lease and take over management too.
In November of 2016 The Bank reopened. Old-timers will rejoice when they find that the renovation is really more of a dusting. Most of the original furniture and finishings are the same and have merely been refurbished. The 2nd floor, which was originally used for storage, is now a lounge. The Bank serves beer from a local micro brewery, cocktails and small plates like sandwiches and cheeses.
3-1-1 Yuigahama, Kamakura, Kanagawa (Gmap)
Hours: Wed thru Fri 17:00 – 25:00 Sat, Sun, Holidays 15:00 – 25:00
Closed: Mon, Tue