Buildings by Wright Apprentices in Nagano

Following the success of a similar event in 2006, WAAJ conducted an encore building tour weekend in Karuizawa and Togura, Nagano Prefecture. This year’s gathering was a multinational affair, with attendees from the U.S., U.K. and Australia, as well as Japan. On the first day, we visited buildings in Karuizawa that were designed by Antonin Raymond and his apprentice, Junzo Yoshimura, including Raymond’s Summer House (1933; now the Peynet Museum) and St. Paul’s Catholic Church (1935), and Yoshimura’s Harmony House and Melody House (both 1983), commissioned by the American founder of Music for Youth, Inc. As the fog rolled in and the rain began, we moved to Raymond’s New Karuizawa Studio (1962) for a very special BBQ party that continued late into the evening. Our guide for the day, and owner of the New Karuizawa Studio, was Koichi Kitazawa, principal of Kitazawa Architects and Associates. Kitazawa worked for Raymond from 1966-1973 and is a WAAJ Honorary Board Member.

On Sunday morning, after briefly viewing the marvelous 1962 Yoshimura Sanso, we moved on to Togura, a small spa town to the northwest. There, we toured the eight fully restored suites of the Sasaya Hotel’s Honenmushi wing. Designed by Arata Endo in 1932, the wing was registered as an Important Cultural Property in 2003. One of Arata’s most traditional designs, the sukiya-style suites feature private terraces wrapped around an extensive garden and carp pond. Our guide, Daiyu Ishii, Representative Director of Shin Kenso, the architectural firm founded by Arata Endo, was responsible for the renovation of the suites. The weekend ended with lunch at a quaint restaurant in an erstwhile sake brewery, followed by a tour of the 1761 building and sake tasting.