Please view the main text area of the page by skipping the main menu.

Retro Japan: Late sculptor's self-designed 1935 studio shows glimpse of his worldview

The courtyard is seen under the uniquely shaped ornamental window at the Asakura Museum of Sculpture in Tokyo's Taito Ward on Jan. 27, 2022. (Mainichi/Akihiro Ogomori)=Click/tap photo for more images.

TOKYO -- Formerly a studio doubling as a residence of the late sculptor Fumio Asakura (1883-1964), the Asakura Museum of Sculpture in Tokyo's Taito Ward offers hints of the artist's worldview.

    A soft light pours in through windows on the north side of the studio at the Asakura Museum of Sculpture in Tokyo's Taito Ward on Jan. 27, 2022. (Mainichi/Akihiro Ogomori)=Click/tap photo for more images.

    Asakura excelled as an artist from the Meiji era (1868-1912) through the Taisho era (1912-1926), then into the Showa era (1926-1989), and was the first sculptor to be awarded Japan's Order of Culture. Designed by Asakura himself and built in 1935, the museum consists of a reinforced-concrete studio section and wooden residence section.

    The building stands in Taito Ward's Yanaka district, where the atmosphere of a traditional Tokyo "shitamachi" residential neighborhood still remains.

    The ceiling of the studio, where Asakura's works are placed, is 8.5 meters high. On the north side is a gently curved window, through which light pours into the room. The interior fabric walls create a soft and warm feeling to the entire space. The adjacent room was used as a "piano room." It has an ornamental window, which looks like something different to everyone who looks at it, and creates a harmony with the beautiful courtyard.

    In the study, there are some 2,500 books collected by art critic Toru Iwamura, who taught Asakura at art school. Having been close to Iwamura, Asakura received the books after the former's passing. The spines of aging books filling entire walls of shelves are becoming increasingly captivating. Just walking inside the quiet museum is a practice in relaxation.

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

    Valuable books fill entire walls of shelves in the study at the Asakura Museum of Sculpture in Tokyo's Taito Ward on Jan. 27, 2022. (Mainichi/Akihiro Ogomori)=Click/tap photo for more images.

    * * *

    The Japanese version of this article was originally published on Feb. 27, 2022.

    * * *

    This series explores Japan's architectural wonders and secrets of yesteryear. Read more Retro Japan articles here.

    Retro Japan in Photos: Sculptor's self-designed 1935 atelier studded with his worldview

    Also in The Mainichi

    The Mainichi on social media

    Trending