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Report|Design Tour: Fun with the Classics at Yokiso’s Choshokaku

Choshokaku exterior

Hakuun Bridge, a symbolic structure of the north garden, which is said to imitate the Chitose Bridge at the Shugakuin Imperial Villa.

North Garden

Director Sato with a model of Yokiso (Exhibition room, 1st floor, Choshokaku)

Mini concert performed by the group Torio de Brunch (Basement 1, former ballroom, Choshokaku)

In 2013, in conjunction with Aichi Triennale 2013, there were several concurrent projects organized by Creative Design City Nagoya. In one, called the Design Education Project, a design tour was held in which experts explained various aspects of historically important buildings. This was one of the Aichi Triennale 2013 Partnership Projects. It’s an event that gives people the chance to raise their design IQs and revisit the charms and individuality of Nagoya by having access to specialists sharing their extensive knowledge.

Tour participants visited Yokiso, a masterpiece of a suburban villa donated to the City of Nagoya. It belonged to the founding president of Matsuzakaya Co., Ltd., Ito Jirozaemon Suketami. Sanshotei (1918), the first building transferred from the Ito family’s main residence, was just one of what in their heyday were 30 magnificent structures. Today, most of these are long gone, and high-end apartment buildings stand in their places. The five cultural properties and gardens that were donated to Nagoya are vivid reminders of the ancient past, and are precious cultural assets.

On this tour, participants focused on Choshokaku in Yokiso’s South Garden, which had just been opened to the public after restoration work, then proceeded to the the Bungalow in the North garden. This compact circuit was specially planned for this group and lasted about an hour and a half, but the 41 members, chosen by a lottery in which there were far more applicants than expected, listened with great interest to their guides, including the director of the NPO Meeting of YOKISO and three other architects from the Aichi Society of Architects & Building Engineers. Both groups were instrumental in the preservation and restoration of these treasures.

To round out the tour, participants were treated to a salon-style mini concert and a short lecture given by the director and focusing on Suketami. These were held in the basement multipurpose room, the exotic former ballroom of Choshokaku, with its India-influenced design. It’s a little-known fact that the Ito Gofukuten children’s band, founded in 1911 by Matsuzakaya’s predecessor, kimono shop Ito Gofukuten, later transformed into what is now Japan’s oldest orchestra, the Tokyo Philharmonic. With that story as a backdrop, three members of the Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra entertained the audience with ten musical numbers, all in some way connected with Yokiso.

Aichi Triennale 2013 Partnership Project,
Design Tour: Fun with the Classics at Yokiso’s Choshokaku
Date: Sun., September 29 2013, 2:45pm – 6:00pm
Venue: Yokiso (Chikusaku, Nagoya)

Interpreter (Guides & Lecturer):
Yoshitaka Sato (Director General, NPO Meeting of YOKISO/Curator)
Tomohiko Mizutani (Vice-Director, NPO Meeting of YOKISO/Architect)
Hiroaki Usui (Member, NPO Meeting of YOKISO/Architect)
Toshinori Hasegawa (Member, NPO Meeting of YOKISO/Architect)
Player: Torio de Brunch
Participants: 41

Organizer: Creative Design City Nagoya Organizing Committee
(Constituent organizations: City of Nagoya, International Design Center NAGOYA Inc., The Nagoya Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Council of Chubu Design Organizations)
Co-organizer: Yokiso
Corporation: Nagoya Vienna Club

*There are too many photographs from this tour in the report of Creative Design City Nagoya to publish here, but feel free to look over their event reports.