Wright's First Trip to Japan

Wright was remarkably quiet about his three months in Japan.

We know he stayed April 23,1905 at the famous Kanaya Hotel in Nikko and two days later checked into Hakone’s Fujiya Hotel. He also visited Shikoku, Nagoya and Kyoto. Wright declared the Shugakuin, a seventeenth-century imperial stroll garden in north Kyoto, as the world’s greatest work of art. “All that was like an open book to me,” he recalled of the garden’s design, “and I knew how to read it. I could read every word in it…. It was a great educational experience.”

When Wright sailed back to America he took back a head full of architectural ideas and boxes (and more boxes) of woodblock prints, several hundred by the artist Hiroshige alone.

It was about the time of Wright’s first trip to Japan in 1905 (apparently intended purely as a vacation), that Wright began to somewhat “accidentally if not unintentionally” slowly enter the realm of becoming a dealer of Japanese prints. (In the mind of this author, there is no doubt that many woodblock enthusiasts naturally “navigate” over time towards “becoming an art dealer,” simply as a means of immersing themselves into a closer and more intimate association with the art with which they so dearly love.) During this first venture into Japan, Wright is known to have invested heavily into both woodblocks and other forms of art to be used in the decoration of their home. From this first trip alone, Wright is known to have returned with “several hundred Hiroshige woodcuts.” Additional details of Wright’s first three-month trip to Japan with his wife Catherine are well documented in the 1996 book, “Frank Lloyd Wright’s ‘Fifty Views of Japan’ – The 1905 Photo Album.”