Beyond the lofty ironwork door is the entrance hall, with black and white checkerboard floor overlaid with red carpet. The checkerboard, called the ichimatsu motif in Japan, is composed of black Japanese slate and white Italian marble. A similar floor can be seen in the Palace of Versailles in France.
The entrance hall. The floor has a black and white checkerboard pattern, and a red carpet has been laid in its middle, extending towards the central staircase.
The Entrance Hall is the area in which guests such as state and official guests visiting the State Guest House, Akasaka Palace first set foot. It is also where they first meet His Majesty the Emperor or the Prime Minister.
Guests enter the Main Building through these doors. Above the doors is the chrysanthemum crest of the Imperial Household. Upon entering the Entrance Hall, guests are greeted by a white wall that continues up to the ceiling.
Tōgo Murano , who oversaw the extensive renovation during the Shōwa period, strived to create this whiteness to balance the overall brightness of the building. Murano’s concept was to bring out the warmth of the pure white colour that reminds one of blend-looking official buildings by creating his own unique colour with the idea of “making white seem white, not making white look white.”
The floor is laid out in a chequered pattern using black and white marble. This was done by referencing the floor at Grand Trianon, a château (palace) of the Palace of Versailles. The marble stone was completely replaced during the major renovation in the Shōwa period.
Stairs and halls full of various European marbles. The hall is decorated with paintings by Ryohei Koiso. Emperor and Empress welcome guests.
Large hall on the second floor
Guests ascend this staircase in the middle of the Main Building up to the second floor. The walls flanking the central staircase are covered in red marble stone.
It appears that red and green marble stones were used alternately to cover the walls when the building was first constructed, but the colour was unified during the extensive renovations in the Shōwa period to brighten up ambience of the entire building.
The Corinthian pilasters are made of stucco. This was to demonstrate technical sophistication when the building was first constructed.
Sunset is depicted to pair with the rising sun above the top landing of the staircase. The sunset sees off guests as they leave.
Into a Place of Opulence
Guests walk the red carpet through the entrance hall and up the grand stairway of Italian marble. A barrel-vaulted ceiling bright with gold leaf arches overhead as they ascend each step. On the central staircase, a red carpet has been spread over the stairs, and the walls to the left and right are made of mirror-like red marble. Straight ahead, near the ceiling, the Imperial chrysanthemum emblem can be seen.
Rising and Setting Suns to Mark the Visit
The paintings on the south and north end of the vault seen from the grand stairway were conceived in the spirit of hospitality. Arriving guests are greeted with a painting of the morning sun as they ascend to the second floor, and departing guests are given a send-off with a painting of the setting sun on their way down to the entrance hall. An image of the painting one sees when going to the second floor, and the painting one sees when descending to the first floor are described here together. Behind the Imperial chrysanthemum emblem, a background of dawn has been painting on the side leading to the second floor, and on the side leading down to the first floor, a painting of dusk has been painted.
Great Marble Columns with Striking Patches of Violet
Just beyond the top of the grand stairway is the Large Hall, with eight columns of Italian breche violette marble. In the great hall on the second floor, Large marble pillars with beautiful purple patterns can be seen.
Painting and Music by Ryohei Koiso
Flanking the door to Asahi no Ma are a pair of oils by Ryohei Koiso, entitled Painting and Music. The large oil paintings painted by Ryohei Koiso decorate both walls outside the entrance to Asahi no Ma. The title of the piece on the right is
Ceiling Art with Utopian Intent
The ceiling painting is titled Seventh Heaven. Executed by Professor Shun’ichi Terada of Tokyo University of the Arts, the work symbolizes an ideal world where seven doves race across the sky, leading the way to tranquility. It is laid out to appear as though one is looking up at part of a building, where the center portion represents the expansive sky, where seven doves are painted.
Columns of Norwegian Rose Marble
There are pillars carved from pink marble patterned with white pigments, quarried in Norway. Elegant marble pillars of pink flecked with white are visible against the walls.
The State Guest Houses (Akasaka Palace) are national facilities to receive foreign dignitaries, such as monarchs, presidents and prime ministers, from countries all over the world. The SGH plays one of the key roles of diplomacy through performing a wide variety of functions, including accommodating foreign dignitaries and holding summit meetings, signing ceremonies or banquets.
The State Guest House, Akasaka Palace serves as a splendid stage of diplomatic activities by welcoming monarchs and presidents from countries all over the world. The State Guest House, Akasaka Palace was the only palace in Japan that was built based on the neo-Baroque style as Crown Prince’s Palace in 1909. It is a structure built by mobilizing all available resources of the Japanese architectural, art and craft industries in those days and represents the culmination of Japan’s full-scale modern Western architecture in the Meiji period. Japan returned to the international community a dozen years after World War II and the number of foreign dignitaries that it welcomes increased; given this, the facilities were extensively restored and remodeled along with the construction of a new Japanese Style Annex and made a fresh start as the current State Guest Houses in 1974.
After the massive repair work in 2009, the State Guest Houses was designated as a national treasure as one of the structures that represent Japanese architecture. The State Guest Houses has received a large number of distinguished guests, such as monarchs, presidents or prime ministers, and been used as a venue for international conferences, including summit meetings, as well.
In addition, it is open to the general public as long as its primary activities are not interrupted, thereby contributing to making Japan a tourism-oriented country.