Saturday, 30 April 2011

Mansion of Mitsubishi Founder circa 1896

As part of the modernisation of Japan during the Meiji Period (1868-1912), foreign experts in the English language, science, engineering, architecture and military were employed to educate and contribute during this era of 'enlightened rule'. The industrial revolution was achieved by borrowing western technology and embracing free enterprise capitalism which led to ultimate control of manufacturing and economic prowess in Asia.

Iwasaki Yataro, of samurai and provincial farming ancestry was greatly influenced by the volatile political and economic times. He worked his way from a clerk and rose to a high position in the Tosa clan and was responsible for trading camphor oil and paper for ships, weapons and ammunition. His success as a shipping industrialist subsequently led him to establish the Mitsubishi Corporation.

Kyu Iwasaki-tei or Old Iwasaki Mansion, designed by British architect Josiah Conder, marked the dawn of modern architecture in Japan. This European building was built in British Renaissance style with Jacobean-influenced interiors as well as Moorish motifs.

The Mitsubishi logo was derived from the Iwasaki family crest of three-stacked rhombuses and the three-leaf crest of Tosa Clan. The well-known emblem represents a ship's propeller.

Photography in the house was not allowed. This photo sourced online shows Jacobean-style interior embellishments.

The Japanese-style building, the living quarters of the Iwasaki family, was integrated with the Western-style building.

The Billiards Hall, separate from the main building, was built in the style of a Swiss chalet, entirely made of wood.

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