For the past 130 years, Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel has witnessed the city’s changing landscape, Japan’s emergence into a tourism hotbed and makeovers by several architects. Of the final group, one name stands above: the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who 100 years ago this month completed an acclaimed renovation of the famed hotel.
"From 1913 to 1922, Wright visited and stayed in Japan intermittently for the renewal of the Imperial Hotel as well as for his collection of Japanese art, including ukiyo-e prints," says Imperial Hotel Tokyo Public Relations Manager Iori Hamada.
While Wright may be the most famous steward of the Imperial Hotel, he was just one of many over the years. For the building’s 1890 opening, Yuzuru Watanabe designed the hotel as a comfortable Victorian-style guesthouse for foreign visitors, followed by Wright in 1922 and the third-generation expansion by Teitaro Takahashi in the 1970s.