Wright and Japan
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Wright and Japan
I wish I were in Japan and would like to see Mount Fuji just as you pasted my picture in the above.
Oh sure…you could in the near future.
Are you saying, you’ll take me to Japan some day?
Oh, yes…some day…some day.
Kato, you are NOT so dependable…whenever I tried to meet you, you used to show up too late. You always disappointed me, didn’t you?
Well…I was quite busy, you know.
Yes, yes, yes,… I know that, but you could manage it somehow.
You’re telling me, Diane.
So, today, you’re talking about Frank Lloyd Wright and Japan, aren’t you?
Yes, I am.
Are you saying, Frank Wright loved Japan so much?
Oh yes, Japan is the only country outside of America in which Frank Wright lived, worked and loved.
How come you’re so sure about it?
‘Cause this is the historical fact.
I’ve never heard of it.
…’Cause you’ve been so busy, Diane, in submerging yourself in the West end lifestyle as well as Kitsilano’s. :)
I mean, I’ve never learned it.
…’Cause you once lived in Faro, Yukon Territory—up north in the extremely cold climate, which apparently erased your memory about Frank Lloyd. :) he, he, he, he, he,…
Kato, don’t be absurd! I remember quite well what I’ve learned in my life. Besides, you told me that Frank got involved in an extramarital affair.
Yes, He did. What about it?
Well, … In 1903, Frank designed a house for Edwin Cheney, a neighbor in Oak Park, and immediately took a liking to Cheney’s wife, Mamah Borthwick Cheney.
Yes, that’s right.
Mamah Cheney was a modern woman with interests outside the home. She was an early feminist and Wright viewed her as his intellectual equal. The two fell in love, even though Wright had been married for almost 20 years.
Diane…you remember quite well, don’t you?
Yes, I do. That love affair interested me greatly. Often the two could be seen taking rides in Wright’s automobile through Oak Park, and they became the talk of the town. Frank’s wife, Kitty, was sure that this attachment would fade as the others had, and refused to grant him a divorce. Neither would Edwin Cheney grant one to Mamah.
Frank and Olga
You’re absolutely right, Diane.
So, in 1909, Frank Wright and Mamah Cheney went together to Europe, leaving their own spouses and children behind. So, Japan isn’t the only country Frank went outside of America, is it?
You’re telling me, Diane. But Europe is his refuge from the scandal. On the contray, to Frank, Japan is his paradise.
Why is that?
‘Cause he was an enthusiastic dealer in the Japanese ukiyo-e art.
So, Frank loved woodblock prints of a salacious nature, didn’t he? I wonder if he was a pornographic collector.
Oh, no. Don’t jump to a hasty conclusion. He also loved woodblock prints of the Japanese scenery like Mount Fuji in the above. Though most famous as an architect, Wright was an active dealer in Japanese art—mostly ukiyo-e woodblock prints. He frequently served as both architect and art dealer to the same clients. That is, he designed a home, then provided the art to fill it.
I see. He had an acute business sense as well, I suppose.
Yes, I think so, too. In fact, Wright made more from selling art than from his work as an architect.
Is that right? So, he had some Japanese connections.
Yes, he did.
Now, I understand how come the creator of the theme park in Karuizawa also called his park “Karuizawa Taliesin” and wanted to make it as a base for new cultural power.
This person knew Frank Wright quite well, didn’t he?
You’re telling me, Diane.
So, Frank went to Japan, didn’t he?
Yes, he did.
What did he do over there? Did he meet another Madame Taliesin by any chance?
Well…, Frank met some beautiful Japanese women, for sure, but he was invited by an old friend of his to build the prestigious Imperial Hotel.
Imperial Hotel in Meiji Village
Meiji Village Museum
I thought that Imperial Hotel was in Tokyo.
Yes, it still is. Since the new hotel building was built, the part of the old building Frank Wright had designed was moved to Meiji Village, which is an open-air architectural museum/theme park in Inuyama, near Nagoya in Aichi prefecture. It was opened on March 18, 1965. The museum preserves historic buildings from Japan’s Meiji (1867-1912), Taisho (1912-1926), and early Shōwa (1926-1989) periods. Over 60 historical buildings have been moved and reconstructed onto one square kilometre (250 acres) of rolling hills alongside Lake Iruka. The most noteworthy building there is the reconstructed main entrance and lobby of Frank Lloyd Wright’s landmark Imperial Hotel, which originally stood in Tokyo from 1923 to 1967, when the main structure was demolished to make way for a new, larger version of the hotel.
I’m not particularly interested in the old hotel building. I’d rather hear about some Japanese women Frank met in Japan.
So, you’re interested in his sizzling love affairs with some Japanese women, aren’t you?
Yes, I’m all ears for romance.
You’re probably expecting something like a story about Yuki Morgan, aren’t you?
Who is Yuki Morgan?
So, you are saying, Frank Wright also found a nice geisha girl in Kyoto, aren’t you?
Yes, of course, he did.
Did he secretly marry her?
Oh, no…he was fed up with the scandal at the time, and got himself busy in designing Imperial Hotel. No time for geisha girls, although he enjoyed geisha parties once in a while.
By the way, Kato, Yuki’s family name is the same as your first name, isn’t it?
Yes and no. Actually, her family name and mine are the same, pronounced in Japan as “Kaato.” My first name, Kato, has been adopted here in Canada after the famous Green Hornet character. My full name is Kato Akira Kaato.
I see…I wonder if your family and Yuki’s family are related.
Yes, indeed, our family is related to hers. My grandma once told me about the story of my ancestors, who had origiginally come from Paekche （百済）—part the the ancient Korea.
From part of the ancient Korea?…no kidding!
Once upon a time—in 663 to be exact—there happened the Battle of Baekgang-gu (白村江), which was fought between Baekche （百済） restoration forces and their ally, Yamato Japan, against the allied forces of Silla （新羅） and the Tang （唐） Dynasty of ancient China. The battle took place in the lower reaches of the Geum River in Jeollabuk-do province, Korea. The Silla （新羅） – Tang （唐） forces won a decisive victory, forced Yamato Japan to withdraw completely from Korean affairs and crushed the Baekche restoration movement.
Are you serious about this, Kato?
Yes, of course, I am.
You’re telling me about the 7th-centry battle in the Far East, aren’t you?
Yes, I am. My ancestor was one of the guards for the imperial palace in Baekche （百済）. Since the battle was lost, he and his family fled to Japan, and later setteled in Nara—the ancient capital of Japan. One of the family was married into the Kato clan in Kyoto. Yuki’s family and my family had descended from this branch. Yuki’s family had remained in Kyoto while my ancestoral family had moved toward the present Tokyo some hundred years later, and eventually settled in Gyoda—my home town.
Interesting! … But do you really want me to belive all this?
Well… I wrote this story in Japanese quite a while ago. If you’re interested in, please translate the following article using the Google translator and read it.
If you’ve got some time,
Please read one of the following artciles:
Hi, I’m June Adames.
In 1940, Frank Lloyd Wright and his third wife, Olgivanna (December 27, 1898 – March 1, 1985), formed the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, which still exists.
Even before this organization, Taliesin Fellowship went along very well. You can see various activities in the following video clip:
Taliesin Fellowship in 1933
Birthday Celebration at Taliesin
Upon Wright’s death in 1959, ownership of the Taliesin estate in Spring Green, as well as Taliesin West, passed into the hands of the foundation.
The foundation also owns Frank Lloyd Wright’s archives and runs a school, the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture.
Nowadays, computers have come to Taliesin, and you can see some activities in the following clip:
on the advent of computers