Retro Japan: 1934 Western-style Tokyo Workshop Brings In Sunlight

TOKYO – In a quiet residential area in the capital’s Nakano district, there is a workshop which also serves as a home and is a registered national tangible cultural property.

The old entrance to the Migishi Workshop can be seen in the Nakano district of Tokyo on November 4, 2021. (Mainichi / Akihiro Ogomori) = Click / tap the photo for more images.

The structure is characterized by its large box-shaped design. It was built in 1934 for the Western-style painter Kotaro Migishi (1903-1934) and his wife Setsuko Migishi (1905-1999). Kotaro died at just 31, while Setsuko, who is known as a pioneer of Western painting in Japan, lived to be 94.

The two-story wooden Migishi Workshop was designed by architect Iwao Yamawaki (1898-1987), who studied at the “Bauhaus”, the German art school that influenced the architecture industry in the whole world. The south-eastern side of the building is fully glazed. Its main room is double height, and the beautifully curved spiral staircase leads to a Japanese-style room on the second floor.

Atelier Migishi is a valuable example of a wooden structure in the style of Modernist architecture, which eschews decor and uses concrete and steel, among other materials. Unfortunately, Kotaro succumbed to illness before he could see the workshop completed.

Listed as a national tangible cultural property in 2014, the building also functioned as a rental studio. The profits are used to maintain and repair the installation. Those who want to see inside can apply through its official website: http://www.leia.biz/contact-us/ (in Japanese).

(Japanese original by Akihiro Ogomori, Photo and Video Center)



The western-style first floor room adjacent to the main room of the Migishi Workshop is on view in the Nakano district of Tokyo on November 4, 2021. (Mainichi / Akihiro Ogomori) = Click / tap the photo for more images.

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The Japanese version of this article was originally published on December 5, 2021.

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This series explores the architectural wonders and secrets of ancient Japan. Read more articles on retro Japan here.


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