Japan's northernmost wooden Western-style building, the Pierson Memorial House was once home to George and Ida Pierson, two American missionaries who came to Hokkaido during the late nineteenth century. Designed by architect William Merrell Vories in 1914, this elegant private residence played an important role in the local culture and spirit of the city of Kitami over the fifteen years the couple resided there. This Hokkaido Heritage site now opens its doors as a museum, allowing visitors to wander through the historic halls and rooms preserved with their original furniture—including plush couches, a wooden writing desk, and a reed organ.
During the forty years George Pierson spent in Japan, he remained actively engaged in missionary work. Together, the couple contributed to women's education, campaigned against prostitution, and promoted the development of schools in Hokkaido. On display at the memorial house are a range of former belongings that offer insight into their lives in northern Japan—from translated works to letters, pamphlets, and photographs. The house also features a room dedicated to George Pierson's hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey in the United States, which has maintained a sister city relationship with Kitami for more than half a century.
Featuring a red door and dark green roof, the weatherboard house is especially charming during spring, when it is framed by the pink petals of cherry blossoms. Not only do the surrounding trees provide a picturesque photo opportunity—they have also gained attention for their purported spiritual power and restorative energy. A 15-minute stroll from Kitami Station, Pierson Memorial House offers visitors the opportunity to take a glimpse back in time into the lives of this missionary couple—a fascinating example of the fusion of Japanese and Western culture.
Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Address: 7-4-28 Saiwai-cho, Kitami, Hokkaido Prefecture
Airport: Memanbetsu Airport
Mondays (closed Tuesday following public holidays that fall on a Monday)
New Year’s holiday (December 30 to January 6)
About a 15-minute walk from Kitami Station.