Japanese Secession By Soeiro, Diana
In 1920, a group of Japanese architects interested in Art Nouveu or “Jugenstil” created a society sharing a common approach concerning the future of architecture in Japan. Taking inspiration from the Austro-Hungarian version of Jugenstil (known as Vienna Secession), they decided on the name Bunriha (literally, “Secessionist Group”), becoming known as Japanese Secession. Central to the group was the attempt to secede from certain practices in the architectural profession at the time that, they felt, obligated them to use exclusively traditional styles. Like the Austro-Hungarian Secession (1897–1939), Japan was also trying to come to terms with the issue of identity. Bunriha’s manifesto claimed that architecture should not be exclusively about engineering, but should also be considered a form of artistic expression. The Secessionists respected architecture’s functionalism, but defended a broader interpretation of what that could mean, and were adamant about their refusal to disregard aesthetics.