In 1905, Frank Lloyd Wright made his first trip to Japan, where he observed with his own eyes the architecture and landscape that had deeply influenced his practice for nearly two decades. Like any eager tourist, he carried with him a camera to document his surroundings. The resulting snapshots are rarely seen records, having been published only through a title that’s out of print, but they are now available for public perusal through a new website launched by the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust.
Donated by Wright’s son, David, the collection of 40 photographs offers views of temples, shrines, and gardens in cities from Kyoto to Okayama. An interactive map on the website traces Wright’s route, which began and ended at Yokohama port. Accompanied by his clients Ward and Cecilia Willits, and by his wife, Wright had arrived via steamship from Vancouver Harbor after taking a train north from Chicago.
By the time of this trip, the American architect was already an avid collector of ukiyo-e prints, and the journey through Japan, in his words, was made “in pursuit of the print.” Wright’s general understanding of Japanese life came from these pictures of the “floating world,” and his 1905 photographs reveal a keenness to witness these scenes in real life.
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