La Dolce Vita at Nikko: a beautiful blend of Western and Japanese architecture


Once upon a time, Lake Chuzenji in Tochigi Prefecture was a fashionable summer resort for foreign diplomats in Japan. In 1928, the Italian ambassador to Japan commissioned this lovely villa, which is now open to the public. I visited last month and have just published an article about it for Artscape Japan. Please check it out for history, loving detail and an explanation for how to get there — no easy feat.


The most striking feature is the ceiling done in ajiro-ori, a traditional wickerwork often seen in chashitsu (teahouses). Here it is in a kikkō (tortoise shell) pattern.


While there, I happened to stumble upon THE flower event of the season, the wild Japanese primrose (Primula japonica) in full, glorious bloom.


In Japanese, this flower is called kurinsō because it resembles a “kurin” 九輪, which is the top portion of a pagoda. This is a good reason to visit Nikko and Lake Chuzenji in mid-June. The other is that June is off season, fall being the peak tourist season. Avoid weekends, if at all possible, and take the train.



This entry was posted in ajiro, Alice Gordenker, Antonin Raymond, Chuzenjiko, foreign diplomats in Japan, Italian Embassy Villa, Japanese architecture, Lake Chuzenji, Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to La Dolce Vita at Nikko: a beautiful blend of Western and Japanese architecture

  1. Nihon Scope says:

    Oh wow, those are some beautiful shots! I love the ceiling design!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s