Sagrada Familia / Album
Japanese were the first in the world to show interest in Gaudi's works
KENJI IMAI (1895-1987 Tokio). Japanese architect and teacher. He graduated from Waseda University, Tokyo, in 1919 and immediately began to teach architecture there, continuing to do so until 1965. From 1926 to 1927 he travelled in Europe and studied modern architectural trends in the USSR, Scandinavia, Italy and Spain; he also met Le Corbusier, Ernst May and others. Imai was profoundly impressed by the works of Antoni Gaudí and subsequently played an important role in introducing them to Japan. While his early work as an architect, for example the Library at Waseda University (1925), Tokyo, was Scandinavian in style, Imai was increasingly influenced by Gaudí's work, especially after 1948 when he converted to Catholicism following the death of his Christian wife. This influence is revealed in such works as the Memorial for 26 Martyred Japanese Saints (1962), Nagasaki, and Tokado Imperial Palace (1966), Tokyo, which are highly sculptural with Gaudíesque tiling, leaving visible traces of the artist's hands on the surface. Like Togo Murano and Takamasa Yoshizaka, who had also trained at Waseda University, Imai consistently promoted an Expressionist approach to architecture. He also introduced the work of Rudolf Steiner to Japan. He was not a prolific architect; his importance lay more in his role as an architectural teacher and for the contribution he made in developing Japanese understanding of modern European architecture.
Japanese general public discovered Gaudi in 1980 by an advertising film made in Park Güell, for the Japanese whisky mark Yamasaki, of the Suntory group close to Osaka. And since then the Japanese invade Barcelona.
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