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 Bedøich 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 flowing space. 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). Japanese culture encyclopaedia in Czech language with many entries on Japanese architecture and its relations to the Czech countries is in preparation process - will be published probably 2003.

For more information see these pages: list of my lectures and publications on Japanese architecture (english), complete bibliographical database of literature on Japanese architecture available in Czech public libraries (Prague and Brno) and internet links on Japanese architecture.

japanese architecture lectures and research by osamu okamura from 1997

currently as a doctoral student, history of architecture department, faculty of architecture, czech technical university (cvut) prague. under supervision of prof. ing. arch. vladimir slapeta, drsc.