There is a long and suprisingly very rich history of the Czech – Japanese relations (article in Czech) in the field of architecture. Despite of the geographical distance between the two countries, there were three important Czech architects working in Japan in the first half of the 20. Century: Jan Letzel, author of the reinforced concrete building of the so-called “Atomic Bomb Dome” in Hiroshima; Antonín Raymond, the most influential person in the prewar Japan, starting with Frank Lloyd Wright on the Imperial Hotel project originally, than continuing with many villas, schools, hospitals (St. Luke International Hospital in Tsukiji, Tokyo Golf Club, Reader’s Digest Building…) and Bedřich Feuerstein, working in Raymond’s studio (U. S. S. R. Embassy in Tokyo) and cooperating later with Japanese international style architect Kameki Tsuchiura.
   Many young Japanese architects worked in their studios having the immediate opportunity to get in touch with the latest world architecture movements. On the other hand these three architects published many influential articles about Japanese tradition and it’s latest achievements in Europe.     The opening of Japan at the beginning of the Meiji Period revealed the great treasure of the Japanese architecture, art and culture. First Japanese wood-block prints in Europe attracted many impressionist and art nouveau artists, Henry Toulouse Lautrec and Vincent van Gogh among them. The world famous American architect Frank Lloyd Wright incorporated Japanese “open-plan” and asymmetrical compositions in his early “prairie houses” being the strong inspiration for European “De Stijl” movement. Even in many houses by Mies van der Rohe we could see reflections of the eastern tradition of transparency. After the 1945 Japanese architecture is going to be one of the most vital and inspirative contribution to the urban environmental studies and is nowadays highly valued for it’s purity, esthetic and spatial qualities, high technology standard and sensitivity to the nature. 




This series of lectures should give a complex information on Japanese architecture, history and culture to the students of Czech universities and public. (Regarding the fact, that there is no appropriate literature in the Czech language available on this particular topic.) 









Geographical situation, light and space, principles of composition, materials, structure, garden, seclusion. History of traditional Japanese architecture from prehistory to Edo Period: kofun, Shinto shrine, Buddhist temple (wayo, daibutsuyo, Zen style), pagoda, dwelling house (shinden, shoin), garden, castle, teahouse, port culture, city development. Detailed description of Katsura Imperial Villa and Toshogu Mausoleum.



Itsukushima Shrine - torii gate on the sea, Miyajima by Hiroshima, 12th century.



Lecture was given: 22/4 1997 in Japanese Cultural and Educational Center in Prague, Czech Republic 22/1 1998 in The National Technical Museum in Prague, Czech Republic 22/4 1998 at Technical university (VUT), Faculty of Architecture in Brno, Czech Republic  26/5 1999 at Evangelical church in Louny (with "suizen" shakuhachi meditation of Mr. Vl. Matoušek), Czech Republic    Duration: 90 minutes, 140 b/w and color slides (for 2 slide projectors).






“Westernization” of Japan, industrial development, cultural background and political changes. Conder, Tokyo Technical Institute and his students (Tatsuno), Meiji architecture, Japanese wood-block print and the European painting, Wright and Japan, influence of the Japanese architecture in the Modern Style Movement, the “Imperial” architect Katayama, Czech architects in Japan (Letzel, Raymond, Feuerstein), Japanese International style architects (Yamada, Yoshida, Yamaguchi, Watanabe, Sakakura), Japanese “national” style.



Haus Schröder - interior with opened sliding dooors, Utrecht, by G. Th. Rietveld, 1924-25



Lecture was given:

14/5 1998 in The National Technical Museum in Prague, Czech Republic 10/11 1998 at Technical university (VUT), Faculty of Architecture in Brno, Czech Rep.                    Duration: 90 minutes, 160 b/w and color slides (for 2 slide projectors and video).






Postwar renovation of the cities, industrial prefabrication and return to the tradition, Japanese Metabolists (Kurokawa, Kikutake), visions of the future, technological city, language of post-modernism, information society. Tange, Mayekawa, Isozaki, Maki, Ando, etc. Foreign architects building in Japan (Botta, Rossi, Foster, Starck).



The Great Olympic Hall, Tokyo, by Kenzo Tange, 1959-64



Lecture is in a preparation process.                     Duration: 90 minutes, cca. 150 b/w and color slides (for 2 slide projectors).






Introduction to the Zen-buddhism through original texts with a brief description of the Japanese temple and shrine architecture.



Katsura Imperial Villa, Shokin-tei teahouse, Kyoto, 16th century



Lecture was given:  4/12 1998 in Young Christian Center in Prague, Czech Republic  8/1 and 9/1 in Archiepiscopal Gymnasium (High School) in Prague, Czech Republic  17/12 1998 at Academy of Fine Arts, School of Conceptual Tendencies, Prague, Czech Republic 7/4 1999 in Municipal library, Louny, Czech Republic   Duration: 45 minutes, 50 b/w and color slides (for 1 slide projector).







Ing. arch. MgA. Osamu Okamura, graduate of the Faculty of Architecture at the Czech Technical University (ČVUT) in Prague and of the Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture of Prof. E. Prikryl, in Prague and School of Conceptual Art of Prof. M. Sejn; with a special interest in intercultural studies. The author visited Japan several times, from 1991 is a member of The Czech–Japanese Society and is able to communicate in Czech, Slovak, English, French and Russian.








“Japonský vesnický dům (a česká chalupa?)”  in Architekt magazine XLIII, 1997, No. 16-17, p. 62-63  in Kokoro, spring-summer 1997, p. 20-22


„Arts and Crafts, Frank Lloyd Wright a vliv japonské kultury u počátku moderny“  chapter (p. 38-40) in: Oldřich Ševčík: „Problémy moderny a postmoderny“,  Vydavatelství ČVUT Praha 1998, 3. přepracované vydání


"Knihy o japonské architektuře a zahradách ve veřejných knihovnách ČR" vlastním nákladem 1998


Kontinuita životního prostoru. O vztahu japonské architektury k přírodnímu prostředí. publikováno v: Sborník přednášek: Zahradami napříč Asií, str. 43-48. Vydala Sekce bonsají a zahrad Česko-japonské společnosti, Praha 2001 a v: časopis STAVBA , 2001, č. 3, str.18-21;









“The place is built…”, Prague 1997 (with Josée Dionne, Frauke Dirksen, Yvette Vašourková),  published in Architekt magazine XLIII, 1997, No. 9, p. 5 


“The Holocaust Memorial”, Jerusalem 1997 (with Petr Husák and Maria-Luisa Miccoli),  published in Architekt magazine XLIV, 1998, No. 1-2, p. 10-11


Invited address “The Holocaust and ethics in architecture”, at Prague Forum 2000 International Conference of Leading Intellectual Figures, organized and sponsored by The Sasakawa Peace Foundation. 3-7/9 1997, Prague Castle.


"Table Event", "Cinema Event", "Shouting Event", "Kanji Event" (in cooperation with David Mauas and Adam Vačkář - "Action Group"); "Document on living conditions of local Roma family in Terezín" (in cooperation with David Aronowitsch and Krista Hegburg). International architecture workshop "Locating Terezín" at Terezín, organised by Terezín Foundation and Arche Wien, Platform for Intercultural Projects, 15-25/7 1999.


International interdisciplinary open-air workshop "Bohemiae Rosa Project", Site Body Exploration III, Bohemian Karst / Berounka River Valley, organised by Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, Hermit Foundation and The Centre for Metamedia in Plasy, Czech Republic, 3-16/8 1999


Japanese Restaurant Koto in Prague: Tatami-room interior design, graphic style, internet pages (in cooperation with Daniel Ziss), summer 1999


"Incense Field". Polyphonic Arts in Prague, Czech-Japanese Art Project, Střelecký ostrov, 25-27/8 1999.


"Tchechisches Zentrum Berlin": Interior design of the main hall for Ministry of Foreign Affaires of Czech Republic (in cooperation with Daniel Ziss). Work in Progress.






For further reference about lectures on Japanese architecture you can contact the cultural department of the Japanese Embassy in Prague 1, Maltézské nám. 6, 118 01, Czech Republic. Tel. Embassy: ++420-257533546 or directly cult. dept.: ++420-257011097 and Fax: ++420-257532377 or cult. dept. ++420-257537720






If this project raises your interest, contact the author for details.



Ing. arch. MgA. Osamu Okamura  Mobile: ++420-723912666,  E-mail: <okamura@quick.cz>