Japan - Expo Chicago 1893

Japan at the Exhibition Expo Chicago 1893

Japan leads all foreign countries in the amount of her appropriation for display at the Fair, and it is probable that in the interest excited it will take the same stand. The total amount appropriated by the government is nearly $650,000. The most prominent people in the Island Empire were interested in the enterprise which has been carried to a magnificent conclusion. The display made by this country in the buildings of the various departments has already been outlined, but the centre of Japanese attraction is at the north end of the Wooded Island. The Japanese government offered, if a suitable location should be granted, to reproduce a building of the most ancient style of architecture of Japan, and to make the city of Chicago a gift of the structure at the close of the World’s Fair. The offer was accepted, of course, without delay. The structure now stands in the middle of two acres of space in the most charming location of the whole grounds. It is copied from one of the finest specimens of ancient,Japanese architecture. The structure takes the form of a great temple in three parts, a main body and two wings, symbolizing the phoenix, as they declare. The Japanese name of the structure is Ho-O-den, and the temple of which it is a fac-simile is said to date back to the year 1052. But two conditions were made in offering this magnificent Hit to the city of Chicago. One was that the building and garden surrounding it shall remain permanently at the place of erection and be kept in good repair, the other that at least one room be reserved for a display of Japanese works of art, always to be open to the public. The lumber of which this edifice was constructed was all prepared at Japan and was brought here and put together by Japanese workmen. Within it are exhibited articles of unusual interest. In one wing are old bronzes, arms, armor, pottery and lacquer ; all articles from 1.000 to 4,000 years old. Some of this illustrates arts which have been lost, and includes exhibits of extremely great value. In the other wing are shown Japanese products 400 years old and more ; illustrative of the condition of their people when Columbus set out co discover their country, for it was the tales about Cathay and the wonderful island near by that strongly influenced Columbus ; indeed the discoverer thought when he reached Cuba that it was the island of Cipango or Japan. In the main or middle building the Japanese show goods characteristic of their country at the present time.

Upon the whole north end of the Wooded Island Japanese gardeners have expended their skill and ingenuity in the cultivation of flowers, dwarf trees, and those landscape and garden effects in the production of which they are unrivalled. It is only forty years since the empire of Japan was opened up to traffic with civilized nations by that notable expedition of Commodore Perry. Japan practically introduced herself to the world twenty-three years later at the Centennial Exhibition, and now with more kindly feeling toward the American nation than toward any other in the world, she comes before our people with one of the richest displays ever made, and leaves the most of it as a memorial gift to the city of Chicago.

Western Europe has found it necessary to be very industrious in the effort to excel other parts of the world when Japan is the competitor, but nation after nation accepted the invitation from the President, and in every instance the displays are creditable, not only those included in the departmental buildings but also in their own structures erected as official headquarters. The intense rivalry between the Germans and the French has been fortunate for the Fair, for each country has striven to outdo the other, with the result of making each exhibit a notable one. The more prominent of the foreign buildings are ranged along the Lake shore from the naval exhibit northward, and here as neighbors are the buildings of France and Germany; each one is a magnificent structure of large size and cost. The most southerly of this group is the building of Great Britain, which stands just to the north of the battle-ship. Just across the promenade from the British Building is the one erected for its American colony, Canada. Next to the north is the German Building, then the Austrian, then the Ceylonese, and last in the row the French Building. Returning southward on a line just west of these are the buildings for Ecuador, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Norway, Turkey, Denmark, Sweden, Nicaragua, Colombia, Haiti and Brazil. This exhausts the list of the principal foreign buildings of an official character, though it does not by any means include the countries exhibiting in the main buildings of the Exposition, although not occupying structures of their own. There are also tea houses and other refreshment stands of many foreign nations scattered over various portions of the grounds.

©The World's Columbian Exposition 1893