In the early 1920s, Imperial Prince Asaka Yasuhiko left his home in Japan to undertake military studies in France. After a car accident in Paris, his wife Princess Nobuko joined him and together they developed an interest in Art Deco. They both attended the Exposition Internationale des Art Decoratifs et Industriels Moderne in Paris in July 1925.
A few years after returning to Tokyo, Prince Asaka had a residence built for his family. It was completed in 1933 to plans from the Design & Construction Section of the Ministry of Imperial Household. It is a great looking building to come from such a stuffy sounding organisation.
The interior was largely designed by Frenchman Henri Rapin but one of the highlights is the front entrance featuring four frosted glass panels by the Rene Lalique. The panels are every bit as beautiful as any of Lalique’s delicate vases.
The building now houses the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum which allows the public to view the house and grounds as well as the current exhibitions. I stuck it lucky when I visited the Museum since there was an Art Deco exhibition on at the time. I don’t remember much detail of the exhibits since they were labelled in Japanese but that’s OK I can appreciate things for their style alone. I don’t need to know everything about an object.
Here is the guide from the BBC World Service
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