Kicking his heels while waiting for a design commission to materialize, English architect Ralph Adams Cram might easily have frittered away his time getting pickled at the bar of the Rokumeikan, or in the perfumed chambers of Yoshiwara, but he chose instead to take to the byways of Meiji Japan on a survey of Japanese construction styles. Cram’s ultimate achievement in this splendid book was in judging Japanese architecture the equal of Western classical design, this at a time when many Japanese were turning their back on their own outstanding heritage.

Unlike Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter, the Brownstone residences of Brooklyn, or the rock houses of Zanzibar, there are no distinct architectural zones in Tokyo. Scattered across the face of the world’s largest megacity, we must seek out its structural gems one by one.

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