Paper Mache house in Muizenberg, Yokohama, makes it to 118 years

"Yokohama” – Muizenberg's Paper Maché House. Picture: Leon Lestrade / Independent Newspapers.

"Yokohama” – Muizenberg's Paper Maché House. Picture: Leon Lestrade / Independent Newspapers.

Published Jan 27, 2024


Cape Town - The historical house called “Yokohama” in Muizenberg is 118 years old and was made of paper mache which was imported from Japan.

The house can be found along the main road in Muizenberg and, according to South African history Online, the premises has become a historical heritage of Muizenberg and is privately owned.

It has endured the Cape's storms and winds for more than a century.

It was constructed in 1906 with paper mache imported from Japan.

Advocate Glenn Babb, the former deputy chairperson of the Muizenberg Historical Conservation Society and former ambassador to Italy where he was also the South African commissioner to the Venice Biennale in 1993 and 1995, previously told the media in a letter that Japan had appointed Julius Jeppe as the honorary consul in 1910.

In 1906, a seaman known as Captain Wilson erected a Japanese “bungalow” along the main road.

"Yokohama” – Muizenberg's Paper Maché House. Located on Muizenberg Main Road is a historical house called “Yokohama”. Picture: Leon Lestrade / Independent Newspapers.

According to Babb, the house's panels were made from a Japanese substance called “washi”.

He said the material consisted of a durable paste over a thin metal mesh which allowed the material to breathe and expand.

The roof was originally made from asphalt tile but from corrugated iron at a later stage, he said.

Babb said the Muizenberg Historical Conservation Society had tried to gain the interest of the Japanese consulate and later the consulate did make several visits to the house.

The Japanese government wanted to ascertain via research if the panels and kits were manufactured in Yokohama, he said.

A week ago via the Facebook page, “Cape Town -- the most beautiful city in the world”, residents and former tenants of the house shared anecdotes and memories.

One resident wrote: “The room on the right was my room when I boarded there in 1969. Awesome view mornings and evenings, the sound of waves breaking was music to my ears.”

Another said: “And it still stands. The foundation was clearly built as it should have been done plus the materials as said, the breathing plaster, absolutely interesting and worth passing by to see the actual wonder work.”