Printing Office, Tokyo, c. 1910.

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The Printing Office, Tokyo, c. 1910.

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Kasumigaseki (Government District), c. 1910

“With the establishment of the Ministry of Technology (Kobu-sho) late in 1870 government building projects received a fresh impetus … During this period, 1874-1885, architecture for government offices and schools suddenly turned completely Western. Concrete and brick now replaced the earlier compromise styles of wooden frame with stone or stucco face. In this period too, the guidance in the new structures was provided by foreign architects and engineers.

“The young French architect, C. De Boinville, had arrived in Japan in 1872 under a three-year government contract. He was to display to the Japanese something of the decorative style of current French architecture, as in the Printing Office, built in 1876.

“This impressive building had been planned originally by T.J. Waters [who had designed the reconstruction of Ginza with all-brick buildings beginning in 1873], but in the details of its final execution (note the thick glass chrysanthemum window and the phoenix which surrounds the entrance) it is typically de Boinville’s work.”

“Early Meiji Architecture, 1868-1885”, Japanese Arts and Crafts in the Meiji Era, edited by Naoteru Uyeno (trans. By Richard Lane), 1958

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