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œChapter5œ
Driveway by the entrance hall
(Exterior wall with geometric pattern)
Designated National Important Cultural Property
Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright
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Treasure house of episodes
Feature of Wright architecture-Oyaishi stone!
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Reasons Wright used oyaishi stones?

One of the most frequently asked question by guests of the YODOKO Guest House is what the stone used for the interior and exterior works is. This stone is called "oyaishi," and is quarried at Oya-machi in Utsunomiya City, Tochigi Prefecture. Oyaishi was also used for the Old Imperial Hotel, a representative and renowned work by Wright, and it is said that oyaishi is what characterizes Wright Architecture in Japan. In truth, it was not oyaishi, but hachi-no-su ishi from Shimane Prefecture that had been initially considered for the building. The amount of hachi-no-su ishi produced, however, was too low, and they had to give up on the idea. Why Wright decided on oyaishi is explained here.


Indispensable to Wright's decoration effects

At the YODOKO Guest House, oyaishi is extensively used throughout, including exteriors, interior pillars, stairs, etc. Furthermore, it is not used just as a piece of stone, but rather sophisticated designs of local plants are carved as motifs. It can be said, therefore, that by taking into consideration that Wright would have wished to display his original geometric decorative designing, he decided on oyaishi because it was soft and easy to process. The texture of the uneven surface creates an obviously easy feeling, and the warm coloration of brown matches well with the colors of the exterior walls, etc. Since oyaishi is tuff which was formed by volcanic activity approximately 20,000,000 years ago, pieces of wood and seashells sometimes can be found in it.


Fireplace in the dining room

Wright-the first architect to extensively use oyaishi for exteriors and interiors
In addition to the fact that it was easy-to-process, oyaishi was very suitable stone for Wright to express his architectural philosophy with nature as its theme because it provides a deep impression of the nature. Although oyaishi had been used mainly used for storehouses, walls, and gateposts since it is naturally extremely durable, Wright was the first architect who used it extensively for exteriors and interiors as building material. The fact that Wright used oyaishi rather than the granite that was so popular at the time (Taisho period), shows Wright's originality in design.
Balcony
Salon entrance
Stairs
Parapet

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"Visit the home of oyaishi"
Oya-machi in Utsunomiya City, Tochigi Prefecture, is certainly a home of stone. Buildings and statues of Kannon made of oyaishi stand in lines, and stone-crafted frogs are popular souvenirs. At the Oya Museum, you can learn about the history of oyaishi quarrying through stages in tool transition from the ancient hand quarrying method to present machine quarrying. An old underground quarry is an amazing sight, the size of a baseball field at 20000 m2 in space, and 30 m in depth. As the average temperature in the quarry is around 8, it is almost like the inside of a refrigerator. Wright architecture made oyaishi famous, and put a spotlight on the unknown underground quarrying site that had never before attracted people's attention.

Old underground quarry site. Red and yellow figures on lower
left are people.
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*This article was written by Yodogawa Steel Works, under the supervision of Mr. Fumitaka Hirata of the Building Research Institute Foundation, which administrates the restoration and preservation of YODOKO Guest House.


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