Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Architecture in Nagoya Japan

If you click on the title of this post, you'll be directed to an artice in the New York Times. The article discusses a period in Japan when western style buildings, including a hotel designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, was the order of the day. Below is an excerpt.

Near Nagoya, Architecture From When the East Looked West

Published: April 2, 2006

INSIDE St. Francis Xavier Cathedral, a Gothic-style building from the 1890's, a middle-aged man with a heavy Brooklyn accent introduces a swing band visiting from Xaverian High School in Bay Ridge. And then the teenage musicians, in white shirts and black pants, start to play "In the Mood." The crowd sways to the music. For a moment, I forget I'm in Japan.

The introducer, Anthony Bianchi, is a city councilman in Inuyama, a suburb of Nagoya, Japan's fourth-largest city. Mr. Bianchi grew up in Bensonhurst, attended Xaverian, married a Japanese woman and ran for office. He had helped sponsor the students' visit.

For a traveler from New York, encountering the Brooklyn contingent is surprising, but no more surprising than the setting. The cathedral is one of about 70 Western-style buildings scattered around a wooded park near Inuyama. The buildings showcase the Meiji Era, 1868 to 1912, when Japan was heavily influenced by the West.

The buildings were brought to the Meiji Mura (Meiji Village) museum in the 1960's, when rapid development throughout Japan threatened the few important structures that had survived World War II. Their savior was Yoshiro Taniguchi, the architect of the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo (and father of Yoshio Taniguchi, who designed the newest incarnation of the Museum of Modern Art in New York). The elder Taniguchi persuaded a classmate — a railroad magnate — to donate land and help him transport the buildings to the park, which opened in 1965. Western-style streetcars and steam locomotives ply the hilly site. The museum is an easy one-hour train-and-bus trip from the center of Nagoya.

But it isn't to admire the locomotives and schoolhouses (or the barber shops, breweries and telephone exchanges) that I have made the journey. What makes the Meiji Mura so vital to architecture lovers is the presence of the front of the Imperial Hotel, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for downtown Tokyo in 1923 (and one of the few buildings from after the Meiji Era).

No comments: