The Imperial Hotel
Wright’s dramatic Mayan Revival-style Imperial Hotel survived two events that flattened large portions of Tokyo: 1923’s Great Kantō Earthquake and the American bombing of the city during World War II. However, the hotel was no match for the wrecking ball when it was decided, not without protest, to raze the ailing building in 1968 and replace it with a more space-efficient modern hotel tower.
Portions of the Imperial Hotel, including the grand entrance/lobby and the reflecting pool (a feature that came in very handy during the firestorm that followed the 1923 quake), were mercifully saved and painstakingly relocated to the Meiji Mura Museum, an open-air architectural theme park in Inuyama that contains more than 60 historic, culturally significant buildings from Japan and other countries.
Although Wright’s Imperial Hotel miraculously survived the Great Kantō Earthquake (but not without some significant damage), another of his Tokyo structures, a vacation home designed in 1918 for Shiseido skincare scion Arinobu Fukuhara, wasn’t so lucky: it was swallowed up by the earth during the massive 1923 tremor. Two Wright structures in Japan that haven’t been obliterated by demolition or natural disaster and that are currently open to the public as Important Cultural Properties are the Yokodō Guest House in Ashiya and Tokyo’s Jiyu Gakuen Girls’ School.