Statement: Let Us Strive to Maintain a Precious Asset that Embodies the Spirit of Serious Study

by The Committee for the Preservation and Renovation of Antonin Raymond's Historic Architecture
at Tokyo Woman's Christian University

It was at the most recent Annual General Meeting of the Alumni Association, in June, 2006. that the administration of Tokyo Woman's Christian University (TWCU) first announced its new plan for campus development. This report called for the demolition of the East Dormitory and of the former Gymnasium in order to make way for new construction. The July-August issue of the campus newspaper "Gakuho" then introduced a more detailed outline of the plan, asserting that its two-fold purpose was to make the campus a more appealing place for future students and also to ensure their safety.

At present, the core of the campus consists of nine beautifully designed and beautifully sited structures designed by Antonin Raymond in the 1920's and 1930's. Dr. Terunobu Fujimori, Professor of Tokyo University, commenting that "a university begins with its dormitory," has called TWCU "the most beautiful women's university in Tokyo." The Main Building and six other structures have been designated as Registered National Tangible Cultural Properties. Unfortunately, however, the East Dormitory and the former Gymnasium were never registered for this status — and so are scheduled to be demolished. Mr. Raymond designed these buildings near the beginning of an illustrious career. As with the TWCU Chapel and the other, Registered buildings which he designed, these two buildings embody the spirit of serious study. Given this history, we are anxious that the two buildings stand far into the future.

The East Dormitory's overall design concept was not limited to its function, for it also conveyed a philosophy of education. Each private room was designed to help students live out the creed of Dr. Nitobe, the University's first President — "to meditate, to search your heart, and to pray every day." Similarly, the former Gymnasium was a pioneering building, encouraging the development of good health in the women students, a world-wide goal which the United Nations still pursues. From the perspective of the development of both women's independence in general and of higher education for women in particular, then, these two buildings have played — and should be allowed to continue to play — a valuable role.

At the time when the present campus of the university was being planned, TWCU's founder, Dr. Inazo Nitobe, Vice-President Tetsu Yasui, and Karl Reischauer, as a representative of the Board of Trustees, selected the young architect Raymond and commissioned him to design buildings which would fulfill their ideal. Since Mr. Raymond himself once noted that he had designed the exteriors only after having formed a detailed idea of the interiors, we can easily surmise that the three University representatives and the architect spent many hours together, passionately discussing their concepts of education generally — and their ideas for these buildings especially. Is it not, then, our duty to respect the high intentions and great achievements of the University's founders and demonstrate a spiritual rather than a purely material attitude toward their heritage?

We believe that preserving and making use of the East Dormitory and the former Gymnasium will make the University proud for decades to come, giving it a kind of charm and artistic appeal which few universities can boast of. When completed, this preservation could also facilitate the outreach of the University in many ways.

In his autobiography ("Antonin Raymond: An Autobiography" (Rutland, Vermont and Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle Co., 1973)), Raymond himself remarked especially on the strong and solid nature of his structures. Speaking of the Great Kanto Earthquake of September 1, 1923, Raymond pointed out, with reference to the East Dormitory, that the earthquake caused only "minor damage in the core facilities, such as the kitchen, including heating machines and water tanks." The structures themselves are, indeed, still strong enough for them to be used, for many more years — used, for instance, for educational, academic, and cultural exchanges at both regional and international levels. We hope to be allowed to discuss this point with the University's administration.

In view of all that has been said above, many TWCU graduates, many leading architects, many local residents, and many other concerned people request that the University reconsider its plan to demolish the East Dormitory and the former Gymnasium.

September, 2006

Fusako Fujiwara, Representative
Hiroshi Yamaguchi, Adviser

As of October 16, 2006

Machiko Aoyagi Professor Emeritus, Rikkyo (Saint Paul's) University
Ichiko Ima Manga artist
Seizo Uchida Assistant Professor, Saitama University
Yuko Eguchi Professor Emeritus, Tokyo Woman's Christian University
Ikuko Oyabu Playwright
Saeko Ozaki Poet
Koichiro Kanematsu Architect, Secretary General of DOCOMOMO Japan
Toshimasa Konishi Professor, Utsunomiya University
C. Lee Colegrove Professor Emeritus, Tokyo Woman's Christian University
Fumie Kondo Writer
Yasuko Shinoda, Professor Emeritus, Kinjo Gakuin University
Yoshio Shinoda Architect
Hidenobu Jinnai Professor, Hosei University
Nagako Sugimori Former Professor, Japan Women's University
Jakucho Setouchi Writer
Toshie Tokieda Director of documentary films
Akiko Toriyama Minister, Ogikubo Minami Church
Michiko Nagai Writer
Kazuko Nagahara Historian
Noriko Nago Former Dormitory Matron of the East Dormitory, Tokyo Woman's Christian University
Aiko Negishi Professor Emeritus, Tokyo Woman's Christian University
Hiroyasu Fujioka Professor, Graduate School of Tokyo Institute of Technology
Miyoko Mariko Professor Emeritus, Tokyo Woman's Christian University (*)
Chieko Yoshiie Chief Editor, "Casa Brutus"
Hiroko Yotsunoya Former Professor, Teikyo University

(*) --- Miyoko Mariko stepped down as a sponsor on Aug. 21, '08.