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Old Dishes in an Art Deco Mansion

The Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum is holding an exhibition titled “World renowned Japanese table ware; OLD NORITAKE and Nostalgic Ceramics” which should prove to be a great compliment to the venue itself.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum is located in the former residence of Prince Asaka Yasuhiko. It is an art deco masterpiece that was built in 1933 with features created by several well know artists. Henri Rapin designed seven of the rooms in the home and Rene Lalique provided a stunning transparent glass relief just inside the main entrance depicting four female figures holding strings of flowers. Iron work was commissioned from Raymond Stubes and a sculpture title “Children Playing” was created by Leon Blanchot. Japanese designers from the Construction Bureau of the Imperial Household Ministry created many of the lighting fixtures and some of the metal work in the home. A high level of craftsmanship can be seen in the details of this stunning home and it’s definitely worth a visit.

The story of how the home came to be is an interesting one. In 1922, Prince Asaka was sent to Paris to study military tactics and in 1923 he was seriously injured in an automobile accident. His wife, Princess Nobuko was sent to Paris to care for him during his recovery and in 1925 she attended the International Exposition of Modern Decorative Arts and fell in love with the Art Deco style. Upon their return to Japan, Prince Asaka commissioned a residence to be built in the art deco style. Construction commenced in 1929 and the residence was completed in May of 1933. Unfortunately, Princess Nobuko didn’t get to enjoy her new home for long, she died in November of the same year, at the age of 42.

In October 1947 Prince Asaka lost his title and position as a member of the imperial family and moved out of the house. From that time until October 1983, when the residence became home to the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum, it was used, during different periods, as the official residence of the Foreign Minister and Prime minister of Japan and an official state guesthouse.

Since photographs are not permitted in the residence I highly recommend the purchase of the book “Art Deco in the Former Prince Asaka Residence” from the gift shop. The book includes forty-eight pages that describe the history of art-deco and include images and descriptions of the main components of the home along with a time line of the life of Prince Asaka (1906-1981). Priced very reasonably at Y525 (USD $5.25) it’s a great souvenir.

Event Details:

The OLD NORITAKE and Nostalgic Ceramics exhibition is at the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum from April 17 – June 15, 2008. The museum is open daily from 10AM – 6PM and is a 7 minute walk from the Meguro Station or a 6 minute walk for the Shirokanedai Station (map). Admission is Y1,000 (USD $10).

Photo Credit: Personal Collection, Flickr, Noritake Nippon Salt & Pepper Shakers