I reanalyzed the photographs and captions in a 1960 photo collection titled “Katsura” in light of the spatial theory that Kenzo Tange set forth in his correspondence with Herbert Bayer. I also identified seven points of contention in the correspondence between Walter Gropius and Tsutomu Ikuta, and analyzed Tange’s theory for the Katsura Imperial Villa in view of its contemporaneity and anachronisms. This research yielded five new findings.
First, during a visit to Japan, which formed part of a cultural exchange program organized by the Rockefeller Foundation, Gropius emphasized the commonality between traditional Japanese architecture and modernist architecture. The purpose of the program was to encourage Japan to align with the US against the Soviet bloc. Accordingly, Gropius was sent to Japan because of his dislike of Soviet realism. The program succeeded in enlightening Japanese intellectuals through modernist architecture.
Second, Walter Gropius criticized divine architecture, noting that the ancient city of Rome had been dedicated to the emperor. He argued that modernist architecture should embrace democratic values and adopt a human scale. On the other hand, Gropius also argued, as Japanese fascists had done before the end of the war, that architecture should form a cultural unity. Gropius believed that Japanese architecture, as exemplified in the Katsura Imperial Villa, embodied a human scale.
Third, Tsutomu Ikuta fiercely debated with Gropius over traditional Japanese architecture. I identified seven points of contention in their correspondence. Tange’s theory for the Katsura Imperial Villa did not deviate significantly from the ideas of either Ikuta or Gropius. Tange, while seeking to differentiate his ideas from those of Ikuta and Gropius, picked out their good points and blended them into his own theory. For example, Tange emulated Gropius in downplaying the influence of Chinese architecture on Japanese architecture and in underscoring the role of Zen. However, whereas Gropius focused on the simplicity of Zen, Tange emphasized how Zen monks had introduced the other gardens associated with Zen.
The fourth finding concerns my re-analysis of the captions for the “Katsura” photo collection, in which Tange described his spatial theory found in his letters to Bayer. Postulating a Jomon–Yayoi dialect, Tange used the concepts of “pattern,” “space,” and “space-time.” Most notably, Tange found creative freedom in the Katsura Imperial Villa by focusing on the tension arising from conflict between the reception room “space” and stepping stone “space.” Additionally, I clarified that Tange criticized the overall design of the villa (“space-time”), including its mukuri (convex) roof, claiming that it is no more than scenery.