Friday, February 6, 2015

Tokyo's Frank Lloyd Wright Imperial Hotel: My Photos

One of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright's "lost" buildings is his (1923-1967) Imperial Hotel in Tokyo.

Actually, it seems that part of it survives at the Meiji-Mura Museum near Nagoya (see the above link for details). Surviving bits are mostly in the form of exterior stone decorations, lobby furnishings and such because the brick and concrete construction of the original could not be disassembled.

It happened that I was in Japan a few times while serving in the U.S. Army and took some slide photos of the hotel that I recently scanned and digitally adjusted. The images aren't very good, but at least they offer a sense of what the Imperial Hotel was like a few years before it was demolished. Had I known its future, I probably would have taken many more photos to document the building.


An architectural rendering of the Imperial Hotel. The images below deal with the entrance court area which appears at the right-center of the rendering. It faced out towards the Imperial Palace plaza. The wing in the foreground was along a street leading to the Ginza district and contained shops on its lower level.

Two postcard views of the hotel from around 1932, to judge by the automobiles. These images should serve as orientation to my four photos below.

This shows part of the gardens and a tiny glimpse of the building. It was taken in June of 1964.

Also taken in June, 1964. It shows the pond by the entrance as well as some entrance details. By this time, the stone ornamentation was getting pretty mildewed.

This photo and the next one were taken in March 1964 when I spent a week in Tokyo on temporary duty at the Stars and Stripes newspaper.. The weather was gloomy the day I took these photos. Worse, the film I used was Kodak's Ektachrome, a cheaper alternative to its now-discontinued Kodachrome color film. Seen here is the entrance and reflecting pond. Among the cars shown are a Chevrolet and a Cadillac, Japan having little in the way of domestically built large automobiles in those days.

This photo shows some of the brickwork and decorative detailing.

1 comment:

Balfegor said...

It's a pity the old hotel is gone, but that location is hands-down the best hotel location in the whole of Tokyo -- you have stations for the Ginza line, Chiyoda line, Hibiya line, Marunouchi line, Mita line, and Yurakucho lines within a few blocks, the Yurakucho station on the Yamanote line close by as well, and even Tokyo station within reasonable walking distance. It would have been astonishing if they had never rebuilt to increase capacity.