Josiah Conder

Josiah Conder
Josiah Conder (1852-1920) was a British architect who worked as a foreign advisor to the government of Meiji-era Japan. He designed numerous public buildings in Tokyo, including the Rokumeikan, and educated many Japanese architects who later won distinction (notably Tatsuno Kingo and Katayama To­kuma), and hence Japanese called him the "father of Japanese modern architecture".

Invited by the Japanese government, Conder taught at the Imperial College of Engineering in Tokyo from 1877. He was the school's first professor of architecture. He was charged with transforming the Marunouchi area into a London-style business district. He was a teacher of five famous Japanese architects: Tatsuno Kingo, Katayama Tokuma, Sone Tatsuzo­, Satachi Shichijiro and Shimoda Kikutaro­ who were among the first Japanese architects to build western-style buildings in Japan in the Meiji-era.

Despite being resident in Japan he kept up a professional affiliation with the Royal Institute of British Architects, becoming an Associate in 1874 and a Fellow in 1884. He became a part time lecturer until, in 1888, he set up his own practice. Some of his former students set up the Architectural Institute of Japan and Conder was made its first honorary president. He was awarded the Order of the Sacred Treasures in 1894.

Condor developed a keen interest in Japanese arts, and after a long period of petitioning, was finally accepted to study painting with the artist Kawanabe Kyo­sai. He was given the name Akihide by his teacher (incorporating the character 'ei/hide' from the Japanese name for Britain).

His studies led to a number of publications, among them 'The Flowers of Japan and The Art of Floral Arrangement', 'Landscape Gardening in Japan' (1893) and 'Paintings and Studies by Kawanabe Kyosai' (1911).

In 1915 Tokyo Imperial University awarded him an honorary doctorate. He remained in Japan for the rest of his life. His grave is at the temple of Gokoku-ji in Bunkyo, Tokyo.

Conder's architectural designs incorporated a wide variety of styles, including both European and colonial elements. Although he designed over fifty buildings during his career in Japan, many are no longer extant.

Notable buildings surviving today are the residence of Iwasaki Yanosuke, founder of the Mitsubishi group in Yushima (1896, now the Kyu-Iwasaki-tei) and the Mitsui Club in Mita (1913).

* Kummo-in school for the blind (1879) * Ueno Imperial Museum, Tokyo (1881) * Rokumeikan, Tokyo (1883) * University of Tokyo's faculty of law and literature building, Hongo, Tokyo (1884) * Iwasaki Villa, Fukagawa, Tokyo (1889); Burnt down by 1923 Great Kanto­ earthquake * Holy Resurrection Cathedral (or Nikorai-do, 1891) * Navy Ministry Building, Kasumigaseki, Tokyo (1895) * Seisen University Main Hall (1915) * Furukawa Toranosuke Villa, Tokyo (1917)