CWAJ College Women's Association of Japan


Luncheon and Monthly Meetings

June 2015

Going West to find East – Japanese Architect Itō Chūta’s Travel Throughout Ottoman Lands 1904-1905


Our speaker, Dr. Miyuki Aoki Girardelli, an engaging educator gave us a fascinating program filled with a mix of architecture, cultural discovery, and history.

We were introduced to Ito Chuta (1867-1954) an extraordinary personality of Meiji Japan and architect of Tokyo’s Tsukiji Honganji Temple. He was the creator of the Japanese word and concept “kenchiku (architecture)” and the first historian of Japanese architecture. The lecture explored Ito Chuta’s experiences and perceptions in the Ottoman Lands, the other end of the Silk Road.

In 1904 he embarked on a world trip lasting three years and three months searching for the origins of Japanese architecture, looking for proof connecting his own theory connecting the Horyu-ji Temple in Nara to Ancient Greece. During his trip passing through China, Burma, Malay, India, the Ottoman Empire, Europe, and the United States, he reflected on what we now call “Toyo-Oriental” architecture from a Japanese point of view. On his trip he
kept detailed field notes with fascinating drawings, including his observation on the architecture and people in the Ottoman Lands where he spent eight and half months. The talk, with a special emphasis on the Ottoman Empire, explored Ito Chuta’s encounters and perceptions on his way to a “world architecture” tour. The presentation included numerous archival images drawn or photographed by him.

Dr. Aoki Girardelli had put many years of research in her topic and her warm and stimulating presentation was greatly appreciated. We learned she is writing a book on this topic and we look forward to it being published!

Dr. Miyuki Aoki Girardelli, is an Adjunct Professor at İstanbul Technical University (Bogazici University). She is an art historian focused on 19th century Ottoman art and architecture in context of cultural encounters between East and West. She was co-curator of the exhibition “The Crescent and the Sun: Three Japanese in Istanbul: Yamada Torajirō, Ito Chūta, Ōtani Kōzui” held at Istanbul Research Institute. She teaches as adjunct lecturer at the Department of History, Boğaziçi University.

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