Central Post Office, Marunouchi, c. 1931.



1930sArchitectureCommerceGovernment
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Tokyo Station plaza & Central Post Office, c. 1930.

The Central Post Office across the plaza from Tokyo Central Station (left), soon after completion of the post office in 1931. Japan’s first ‘subway’ was completed there in 1917, to move mail and packages underground from the station terminal to the Central Post Office across the street.

See also:
Tokyo Station, c. 1914-1940
Marunouchi Building

“In contrast to embracing discredited Nationalist doctrines, the 1930s also saw other major economies applying an industrial rationalism. A number of architects had trained under Walter Gropius preparing reconstruction in the International Style.

“Some courageous designers aspired to greater objectivity and functionalism as displayed in the Cartesian form of the Tokyo Central Post Office, completed [in 1931] to a design by Tatsuro Yoshida (1894-1956) opposite Tatsuno’s Tokyo Station. The new public utilities and communication service defiantly promoted a resplendent image of efficiency and it was here, combining functionalism with post and beam construction, where modern Japanese architecture was briefly accomplished.

“In 1933 the leading architect Bruno Taut … declared that ‘the architecture of Japan is the architecture of the future.’ Such buildings as the new Tokyo post offices and primary schools, praised by Taut as ‘the most modern in the world,’ should be seen in the context of the untimely curtailment of the German modern movement following the rise of the National Socialist party.”

Project Japan: Architecture and Art Media Edo to Now, by Graham Cooper, 2009

Tokyo Central Post Office, Marunouchi, c. 1931.

Tokyo Central Post Office, Marunouchi, c. 1931. Rapid reconstruction after 1923 Great Kanto earthquake reinforced functionalist urban design trends: street widening and replotting took precedence, and modernist principals were used for public buildings.

See also: Historic post offices face the wrecking ball, Japan Times, November 20, 2007

Note: Tokyo Central Post Office reopened on July 17, 2012, after renovation work that sought to preserve the original interior material to the furthest extent possible. Major architectural features such as the octagonal pillar and the black marble walls were once removed to repair the framework, and then returned to their initial positions. Lost lighting fixtures, black mosaic tiles on the floor, mortar on the ceiling and walls, and parts of the counters were also redeveloped to restore the original designs.

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