Here is the Essay about the Gothic Structure that I research last semester.
Written on 2/9/08’
Tomoe Nakamura #00689214
Gothic Structure in Osaka
Before starting to introduce about the Gothic structures in Osaka, I would like to talk about an American architect who planed them. William Merrell Vories came to Japan in 1905 to be an English teacher at a high school in Shiga prefecture, (which is next to Kyoto) and also to preach Christianity in Japan. He was born in Kansas, moved to Arizona, to Colorado and graduated Colorado University. While he was at the college, he was attended YMCA, after graduated, he obtained job the YMCA International in New York. From there he had an opportunity to come to Japan, leaving from San Francisco Bay in 1905. He was also interested in architecture, so he established architecture office in his area in 1908. Later he gathered with other American and Japanese architects. They designed churches, and other American missionary buildings, but he also designed Western style housings and commercial and office buildings. Because of his interest, his style of architectural design was mostly Spanish Colonial Style, but he also design Gothic style. He was married with a daughter of Japanese viscount in 1919, and obtained a Japanese citizenship later in 1941. (Viscount – the class system existed in Japan during the Meiji era, copied from England.) Because of his mission, he contributed other social activities to develop Japanese education, publication, and health care, from his earnings. Amazingly, he came to Japan even before the WWI, but I didn’t know anything about him. As I am searching on the net, it seems like it has a boom to study and look around his architecture structures among Japanese old building funs and architecture scholars.
I will introduce two of his architecture designs in Osaka area. One the Vories work in Osaka is Japan Christian church, Osaka. It stands in the middle of the office district in Osaka City. So, it is kind of unusual to see among other plain concrete business buildings. Sorry, I am a Shinto believer, so I don’t know much about Christianity, but in the wikipedia site about this church, it says the oldest Protestant established in Japan in 1874 by American priest Goldon (spell?) Vories planned it and built it in 1922. The feature of the church is it Romanesque style that has built in bricks layered with French style, rose window, octagonal pinnacle, stained glass. There are some intricate stone designs on the wall. It was half collapsed in the great Kobe Earthquake in 1995, 1.15, but it was restored and become one of the national cultural assets registered from the Agency for Cultural Affairs in Japan. Most of the sites that I found are in Japanese, so I will post photos from the site. (I should have gone to see actual sites, but I am little late for other classes. I may want to go there later.)
Another Vories’s building in Osaka area is Daimaru Department Store at Shinsaibashi branch. The store itself was started in 1914, and then Vories designed building was built in 1918. Unfortunately, his building was burnt just four months later it was opened, but it re-built in the same style in 1933. I am adding it, because this is more with Gothic Revival style with Art Deco designs which had great influence around the world, after the Paris Expo in 1925, so it is suitable for this chapter. Voris’s original image was the brick Neo Gothic (Gothic Revival) style, and first floor exterior was built with granite, and changes color to brown and again on the top exterior, it has terra cotta, so used white color again to make the three colored layer in design. It looks like layers of a chocolate cake to make it interesting. There are repetitive Gothic design on the wall, and also, there are gorgeous Art Deco style designed (simple and organic) stained glass of peacock (the store symbol), hawk, eagle, and stork. First Vories wanted to use phoenix as the store symbol for the symbol of the recovery of the store, but the American maker didn’t like to use phoenix. Hawk and eagle are the symbol of status, and a stork means an ambassador of giving a gift. There are many hexagon star symbol ornaments in the interior of the building. It was said that as a dedicated Christian, he used the motif as a symbol of the Star of David. Actually, I have been to the store before, but I didn’t know anything about the architecture. It surely gives new insight and interest, when I visit there again.
William Merrell Vories (English)
And other Japanese sites.