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.

Karuizawa Taliesin

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?

Yuki Morgan

Born in Kyoto as Yuki Kato (1881-1963), she was the daughter of a honorable samuri family, but one that was on the wane in the latter part of the 19th century.
Yuki and her sister were both sold to a certain geisha-house to help support the family.

By the time Yuki began her geisha training, her sister was already well-established in the business.
With her assistance Yuki became a popular Gion geisha.
This was how she met George Dennison Morgan, second son of George Hale Morgan and Sarah Spencer Morgan, builders of Ventfort Hall.
He pursued her for years before she agreed to marry him in 1903.

During her lifetime, Yuki never visited Ventfort Hall.
The Morgan family did not approve of their son’s interracial marriage and gave Yuki the cold shoulder from the start, making the early days of her marriage in American a misery.

Yuki was a notorious woman during her long life, especially in her native Japan where novels and a musical play were written about her scandals.
Her life was constant tabloid fodder.

Yuki lost her citizenship when she married Morgan.
Shunned in both Japan and America, the couple found a happy home in France, although they lived the jet-set lifestyle long before the jet was invented and were frequently separated by travel.

Morgan was alone in Spain when he died of a heart attack in 1915.
Yuki became a woman without a country with many financial and legal battles ahead of her.

Yuki stayed in France until 1938 when she returned to Japan.

After Morgan’s death she had converted to Catholicism and was baptized at the age of 73, taking the Christian name of Theresa in honor of her favorite Saint.
Yuki spent her remaining years as a devout Catholic in Kyoto’s Murasakino.

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.

“Kato’s ancestors came from Baekche”


【Himiko’s Monologue】

Wow! … Amazing!
Can you belive that Kato’s ancestor came from the ancient Korea?
In any cace, Yuki Morgan’s story is quite fascinating, isn’t it?

Come to think of it, I’ve never met my “Morgan”—a decent man in my life.
I’m living in Kyoto, you know.
How come I’m always a loner?
I wish I could meet a nice gentleman at the library in my town as Diane met Kato.
Well, they say, there is a way where there is a will.

Have a nice day!
Bye bye …

If you’ve got some time,

Please read one of the following artciles:


“Queen Nefertiti”

“Catherine de Medici”

“Catherine the Great”

“Mata Hari”

“Sidonie Colette”

“Marilyn Monroe”

“Hello Diane!”

“I wish you were there!”

“Jane Eyre”

“Jane Eyre Again”

“Jane Eyre in Vancouver”

“Jane Eyre Special”

“Love & Death of Cleopatra”

“Nice Story”


“Spiritual Work or What?”

“What a coincidence!”

“Wind and Water”

“Yoga and Happiness”

“You’re in a good shape”




“Net Travel & Jane”

“Net Love”

“Complicated Love”

“Electra Complex”

“Net Début”

“Inner World”

“Madame Riviera and Burger”

“Roly-poly in the North”

“Amazing Grace”

“Diane in Paris”

“Diane in Montmartre”

“Diane Well Read”

“Wantirna South”

“Maiden’s Prayer”


“Squaw House and Melbourne Hotel”

“Tulips and Diane”

“Diane in Bustle Skirt”

“Diane and Beauty”

“Lady Chatterley and Beauty”

“Victoria Prudery”

“Diane Chatterley”

“From Canada to Japan”

“From Gyoda to Vancouver”

“Film Festival”

“Madame Taliesin”

“Happy Days”

“Vancouver Again”


“Midnight in Vancouver”

“Madame Lindbergh”

“Dead Poets Society”

“Letters to Diane”

“Taliesin Studio”

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:

Charles Montooth

on the advent of computers

at Taliesin










『軽井沢タリアセン夫人 – 小百合物語』

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