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STORY 1

Clay, Craftsmanship, and Bunmei Kaika

STORY 1

Clay, Craftsmanship,
and Bunmei Kaika

Wright’s Imperial Hotel

Viewing the guest wing of the Imperial Hotel over its batten seam roofing.
Viewing the guest wing of the Imperial Hotel over its batten seam roofing.
  • Wright used a revolutionary architectural design that signified Japan’s modernity and the cultural interaction between the East and the West. Unlike other typical Western-style red-brick buildings of the time, Wright used yellow scratch face bricks, ornamental terracotta and carved Oya lava stones, resulting in warm earth tones that matched Japanese sensibilities.

  • The Imperial Hotel became one of the symbolic architectures of modern Japan. Copying the style, scratch face tiles became a popular exterior material, starting the industrial development of exterior building materials suitable for buildings in Japan.

An evening view of the grand entrance of Wright’s Imperial Hotel.
An evening view of the grand entrance of Wright’s Imperial Hotel. (© Osamu Murai)

The walls of the Imperial Hotel were adorned with rare yellow scratch face bricks, produced at the Imperial Hotel’s brick manufacturing factory in Tokoname. Hatsunojo Ina and his son Chozaburo were invited as technical advisors and, following trial and error by skilled craftsmen, four million bricks and tens of thousands of intricate terracotta pieces were produced, perfectly shaped to meet Wright’s specific requirements. Following the completion of the hotel, Ina took on the equipment and the workers of this factory, creating the foundation of Ina Seito (INAX).

Scratch face bricks adorning the walls of the Imperial Hotel.
Basket of light. Built-in lamps made of terracotta and Oya stones were encased in the columns of the lobby.
Picture of a craftsman making scratch face bricks at Imperial Hotel’s factory.

Inside the hotel, ornamental perforations enriched the light and shadow of the interior as sunlight filtered in from the skylights and windows. Wright’s calculated use of light combined with scratch faced bricks, carved Oya stones, and intricately designed terracotta produced attractive silhouettes, creating a unique and majestic aesthetic experience.

Entrance foyer of Wright’s Imperial Hotel. (© Osamu Murai)

Wright’s Imperial Hotel

  • The Imperial Hotel was initially built in 1890 to provide comfortable accommodation to guests from abroad. As Japan modernized, the number of foreign visitors grew rapidly in the early 1900s. To increase capacity, the hotel commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design the second building in 1916.

Viewing the guest wing of the Imperial Hotel over its batten seam roofing.
Viewing the guest wing of the Imperial Hotel over its batten seam roofing.
  • Wright used a revolutionary architectural design that signified Japan’s modernity and the cultural interaction between the East and the West. Unlike other typical Western-style red-brick buildings of the time, Wright used yellow scratch face bricks, ornamental terracotta and carved Oya lava stones, resulting in warm earth tones that matched Japanese sensibilities.

  • The Imperial Hotel became one of the symbolic architectures of modern Japan. Copying the style, scratch face tiles became a popular exterior material, starting the industrial development of exterior building materials suitable for buildings in Japan.

An evening view of the grand entrance of Wright’s Imperial Hotel.
An evening view of the grand entrance of Wright’s Imperial Hotel. (© Osamu Murai)

The walls of the Imperial Hotel were adorned with rare yellow scratch face bricks, produced at the Imperial Hotel’s brick manufacturing factory in Tokoname. Hatsunojo Ina and his son Chozaburo were invited as technical advisors and, following trial and error by skilled craftsmen, four million bricks and tens of thousands of intricate terracotta pieces were produced, perfectly shaped to meet Wright’s specific requirements. Following the completion of the hotel, Ina took on this factory and its workers, creating the foundation of Ina Seito (INAX).

Scratch face bricks adorning the walls of the Imperial Hotel.
Basket of light. Built-in lamps made of terracotta and Oya stones were encased in the columns of the lobby.
Picture of a craftsman making scratch face bricks at Imperial Hotel’s factory.

Inside the hotel, ornamental perforations enriched the light and shadow of the interior as sunlight filtered in from the skylights and windows. Wright’s calculated use of light combined with scratch faced bricks, carved Oya stones, and intricately designed terracotta produced attractive silhouettes, creating a unique and majestic aesthetic experience.

Entrance foyer of Wright’s Imperial Hotel. (© Osamu Murai)

Terracotta Decorations

Following the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923, new large buildings such as department stores, banks, and government agencies were rebuilt with reinforced concrete and covered with ceramics. These buildings, embellished with flamboyant decorative terracotta, symbolized the recovery of Tokyo.

The trend of decorative buildings quickly spread to other major cities. Décor from various parts of the world was adopted in the designs of ornamental terracotta, and Japanese customs such as symbols of the owner were often also included in the designs.

Equipped with the knowledge gained producing terracotta pieces for the Imperial Hotel, Ina Seito (INAX) became one of the leading terracotta manufacturers in Japan.

Design plans of the terracotta adorning the Takashimaya Osaka department store building.
Design plans of the terracotta adorning the Takashimaya Osaka department store building.
A terracotta ornament of Oni (demons) produced by Ina Seito (INAX), adorning the wall of the former headquarters of Dainippon Pharmaceutical, built in 1930. In Japan, Oni  were thought to ward off evil spirit and protect those inside.
A terracotta ornament of Oni (demons) produced by Ina Seito (INAX), adorning the wall of the former headquarters of Dainippon Pharmaceutical, built in 1930. In Japan, Oni were thought to ward off evil spirit and protect those inside. (© Isao Aihara)
Terracotta decoration of elaborate vases on top of a series of fluted Corinthian pilasters with acanthus capitals produced by Ina Seito (INAX) for the Takashimaya Osaka department store building, built in 1932.
Terracotta decoration of elaborate vases on top of a series of fluted Corinthian pilasters with acanthus capitals produced by Ina Seito (INAX) for the Takashimaya Osaka department store building, built in 1932. (Nankai Building, Osaka © Isao Aihara)
The Spanish-style Shizuoka City Hall building, built in1934, is topped with a terracotta tower and an Islamic-style dome roof. The roof is covered with green and gold mosaic tiles featuring a compass design. The terracotta and mosaic tiles were both produced by Ina Seito (INAX).
The Spanish-style Shizuoka City Hall building, built in1934, is topped with a terracotta tower and an Islamic-style dome roof. The roof is covered with green and gold mosaic tiles featuring a compass design. The terracotta and mosaic tiles were both produced by Ina Seito (INAX). (Shizuoka City Hall Building, Shizuoka © Isao Aihara)
A picture of a foreign settlement in the Meiji period.

A picture of a foreign settlement in the Meiji period. (Courtesy of Yokohama Archives of History)

Terracotta Decorations

Following the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923, new large buildings such as department stores, banks, and government agencies were rebuilt with reinforced concrete and covered with ceramics. These buildings, embellished with flamboyant decorative terracotta, symbolized the recovery of Tokyo.

The trend of decorative buildings quickly spread to other major cities. Décor from various parts of the world was adopted in the designs of ornamental terracotta, and Japanese customs such as symbols of the owner were often also included in the designs.

Equipped with the knowledge gained producing terracotta pieces for the Imperial Hotel, Ina Seito (INAX) became one of the leading terracotta manufacturers in Japan.

Design plans of the terracotta adorning the Takashimaya Osaka department store building.
Design plans of the terracotta adorning the Takashimaya Osaka department store building.
A terracotta ornament of Oni (demons) produced by Ina Seito (INAX), adorning the wall of the former headquarters of Dainippon Pharmaceutical, built in 1930. In Japan, Oni  were thought to ward off evil spirit and protect those inside.
A terracotta ornament of Oni (demons) produced by Ina Seito (INAX), adorning the wall of the former headquarters of Dainippon Pharmaceutical, built in 1930. In Japan, Oni were thought to ward off evil spirit and protect those inside. (© Isao Aihara)
Terracotta decoration of elaborate vases on top of a series of fluted Corinthian pilasters with acanthus capitals produced by Ina Seito (INAX) for the Takashimaya Osaka department store building, built in 1932.
Terracotta decoration of elaborate vases on top of a series of fluted Corinthian pilasters with acanthus capitals produced by Ina Seito (INAX) for the Takashimaya Osaka department store building, built in 1932. (Nankai Building, Osaka © Isao Aihara)
The Spanish-style Shizuoka City Hall building, built in1934, is topped with a terracotta tower and an Islamic-style dome roof. The roof is covered with green and gold mosaic tiles featuring a compass design. The terracotta and mosaic tiles were both produced by Ina Seito (INAX).
The Spanish-style Shizuoka City Hall building, built in1934, is topped with a terracotta tower and an Islamic-style dome roof. The roof is covered with green and gold mosaic tiles featuring a compass design. The terracotta and mosaic tiles were both produced by Ina Seito (INAX). (Shizuoka City Hall Building, Shizuoka © Isao Aihara)
A picture of a foreign settlement in the Meiji period.
A picture of a foreign settlement in the Meiji period. (Courtesy of Yokohama Archives of History)
  • Following Commodore Perry’s visit, the Edo government signed treaties with five countries in 1858. Citizens of the treaty nations were henceforth permitted to live and work in foreign settlements,

  • designated areas near the ports specified under the treaties, with extraterritoriality. Foreign settlements were the initial gateway to Japan’s westernization and continued until 1899, after which Japan reclaimed their jurisdiction and foreigners were permitted to live anywhere in Japan.

Earthenware Pipes Key to Japan’s Modernization

Shiny earthenware pipes ready to be shipped from a factory in Tokoname.
Shiny earthenware pipes ready to be shipped from a factory in Tokoname. (© Tsuchinoko Tokoname Cultural Heritage Society)
  • Before becoming involved in the production of bricks and terracotta for the Imperial Hotel, Hatsunojo Ina started an earthenware pipe manufacturing business in 1902 and operated a mass-production factory in Tokoname.

  • While pipes were produced in various parts of Japan, those produced in Tokoname and by Ina Seito (INAX) were known for their high quality and used in major cities such as Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya, Osaka, and Kobe.

Picture of a ceremony held to bury earthenware pipes in Tokoname in the early 20th Century.
Picture of a ceremony held to bury earthenware pipes in Tokoname in the early 20th Century. (© Tsuchinoko Tokoname Cultural Heritage Society)
Exterior view of the building containing the great kiln.  Today, it serves as a museum portraying the history of Tokoname clay pipes.
Exterior view of the building containing the great kiln. Today, it serves as a museum portraying the history of Tokoname clay pipes.
Steel rods and rails recycled from rail-tracks were placed around the great kiln to support and protect the brickwork from the expansion and contraction caused by the change in temperature of the kiln.
Steel rods and rails recycled from rail-tracks were placed around the great kiln to support and protect the brickwork from the expansion and contraction caused by the change in temperature of the kiln.

The great kiln with a 21m-tall chimney built in 1921 still stands today at the INAX MUSEUMS in Tokoname. The kiln was coal-fired from 14 furnace openings placed evenly on both sides. Due to its extensive size, it took three to four days to fire and 10 days to cool down the kiln. Large pipes with a diameter of 90cm along with other products such as clinker tiles were produced in this kiln during its 50 years of operation. The kiln and the chimney are designated as registered tangible cultural properties of Japan.

When firing this kiln, salt was inserted with coal at high temperatures to render vitreous coating on the products to make them waterproof. The walls of the kiln chamber are still shiny from the salt glaze that built up over time.
When firing this kiln, salt was inserted with coal at high temperatures to render vitreous coating on the products to make them waterproof. The walls of the kiln chamber are still shiny from the salt glaze that built up over time.
  • Story1 Herovisual: © Toshihide Kajihara

Earthenware Pipes Key to Japan’s Modernization

Shiny earthenware pipes ready to be shipped from a factory in Tokoname.
Shiny earthenware pipes ready to be shipped from a factory in Tokoname. (© Tsuchinoko Tokoname Cultural Heritage Society)
  • Earthenware pipes played a less visible yet important role in Japan's modernization. Initially they were introduced to build storm drainage in the Yokohama and Kobe foreign settlements during the Meiji era. Demand for earthenware pipes surged with the urbanization of modern Japan, as they helped to build critical infrastructure for urban living such as water and sewage systems. In the farmland, earthenware pipes were used to develop well-drained paddy fields in damp grounds, which supported the growth of rice farming in Japan.

Picture of a ceremony held to bury earthenware pipes in Tokoname in the early 20th Century.
Picture of a ceremony held to bury earthenware pipes in Tokoname in the early 20th Century. (© Tsuchinoko Tokoname Cultural Heritage Society)
  • Before becoming involved in the production of bricks and terracotta for the Imperial Hotel, Hatsunojo Ina started an earthenware pipe manufacturing business in 1902 and operated a mass-production factory in Tokoname.

  • While pipes were produced in various parts of Japan, those produced in Tokoname and by Ina Seito (INAX) were known for their high quality and used in major cities such as Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya, Osaka, and Kobe.

Exterior view of the building containing the great kiln.  Today, it serves as a museum portraying the history of Tokoname clay pipes.
Exterior view of the building containing the great kiln. Today, it serves as a museum portraying the history of Tokoname clay pipes.
Steel rods and rails recycled from rail-tracks were placed around the great kiln to support and protect the brickwork from the expansion and contraction caused by the change in temperature of the kiln.
Steel rods and rails recycled from rail-tracks were placed around the great kiln to support and protect the brickwork from the expansion and contraction caused by the change in temperature of the kiln.

The great kiln with a 21m-tall chimney built in 1921 still stands today at the INAX MUSEUMS in Tokoname. The kiln was coal-fired from 14 furnace openings placed evenly on both sides. Due to its extensive size, it took three to four days to fire and 10 days to cool down the kiln. Large pipes with a diameter of 90cm along with other products such as clinker tiles were produced in this kiln during its 50 years of operation. The kiln and the chimney are designated as registered tangible cultural properties of Japan.

When firing this kiln, salt was inserted with coal at high temperatures to render vitreous coating on the products to make them waterproof. The walls of the kiln chamber are still shiny from the salt glaze that built up over time.
When firing this kiln, salt was inserted with coal at high temperatures to render vitreous coating on the products to make them waterproof. The walls of the kiln chamber are still shiny from the salt glaze that built up over time.
  • Story1 Herovisual: © Toshihide Kajihara