“The 90th anniversary of a Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece”: Ashiya City, Hyogo

Mr. Yamamoto, director of Yodokō Guest House says that the building, which stands proudly on the ridge of Mt. Rokkō, ‘looks like a ship sailing towards the Seto Inland Sea’. The historic Yodokō Guest House is the only residence in Japan that was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, one of the greatest architects of the 20th century. Wright, who visited Japan to design the Imperial Hotel, designed it as a summer villa for the Yamamura family, a well-to-do Sake brewer in Nada.



The exterior porch, the basin at the entrance, the drawing room and dining room fireplaces, the sculpted pillars… Each is made of Ōyaishi stone from Tochigi prefecture. Their weighty appearance and warm hues help create a calm atmosphere.



Wright’s design does “not separate interior from exterior”, but rather “harmonizes with nature”. In the drawing room, the combination of Ōyaishi stone pillars and mahogany shelves is very Wrightesque!



Looking like masts, the house’s two chimneys thrusting up towards the heavens are clearly visible from the nearest station.



The lines of the ventilation windows, the copper plates tarnished with verdigris to represent the flora colors of the surrounding landscape, the characteristic furniture that unifies the building, the picturesque view from the balcony, and immense fixed window… Due to the extensive use of ‘modern’ design details, the building doesn’t feel 90-years old.



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Wright thought in terms of visitors enjoying the building and feeling satisfied upon departure. The well-thought-out line of flow that welcomes visitors is superb. The gate is located to the north, but the porch and entrance are on the opposite side to the south. Entering from the gate, you cannot reach the door unless you walk through the trees. Stimulating interest, this allows visitors to view the whole building as they walk towards the door…


To make the drawing room feel bigger upon entering, the doorway has been kept deliberately narrow – a clever technique! The stairs between the 2nd and 3rd balcony has a low ceiling arch. Passing through the arch makes the magnificent view of Ashiya city as well as the Seto Inland Sea stand out.



As this year marks the 90th anniversary of the completion of Yodokō Guest House, anniversary events are being held until November 3rd, 2014. Allowing visitors to enjoy the somewhat different nighttime appearance of rooms, as well outstanding views that are a mere 10 minutes walk from the station, an extended evening tour is on offer every Saturday during the event period!



Appreciating Wright’s “hidden masterpiece” in the autumn, one cannot help but play into Wright’s hands…


Yodokō Guest House : A Designated Cultural Asset of National Importantance


Website (English): http://www.yodoko.co.jp/geihinkan/index_e.html

Address: 3-10 Yamate-chō, Ashiya-shi, Hyogo

Access: 10min. walk north from Hankyu Ashiyagawa station (several free parking spaces available)

Open: Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays & Holidays (Also open Tuesdays & Fridays during the event period)


Yodokō Guest House’s 90th anniversary completion event


Website (Japanese): http://www.yodoko.co.jp/geihinkan/news&topics/anniversary.html

Event period: October 4th (Sat) 2014 – November 3rd (Mon, holiday) 2014

(Closed on Mondays & Thursdays during event period)


Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Madoka Hori



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Written by

Madoka Hori

Madoka Hori

Madoka Hori / Photo-writer Entrepreneurial translator/writer living in Hyogo. As a licensed English tour guide, she occasionally takes tourists to beautiful destinations such as Kobe, Himeji, Okayama, Kyoto, and Osaka and her clients have never got lost so far. On Setouchi Finder, as one of the original team members, she enjoys taking photos and sharing her favorite hidden gems. Private Photo Blog http://riderv328.tumblr.com Twitter https://twitter.com/Riderv328


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