[Vories Architecture]

William Merrell Vories is an architect known for leaving Western architecture throughout Japan. Since I started living in Kyoto, I have been surprised every day to learn that this was also Vories' architecture.

Vories was born in 1880 in Kansas, USA. After graduating from college, he worked for the YMCA, a public organization that provides guidance to young people in the Christian spirit. After becoming an English teacher, Vories started an after-school bible class to teach English using the Bible, but while many of his students loved the class, he was dismissed from his teaching position due to the animosity of the predominantly Buddhist community. Later, he built the Omihachiman YMCA Kaikan (now the Andrews Memorial Hall), and his achievements were recognized when he was offered the job of supervising the construction of the Kyoto YMCA Kaikan. This was the beginning of Vories' career as an architect, a dream he had until he decided to become a Christian missionary, and he took this opportunity to establish an office on the building site.

Kyoto and Omihachiman in Shiga, with which he was closely associated, are home to a particularly large number of Vories' buildings. First of all, the Vories building that everyone who has visited Kyoto has probably seen at least once is the Tohka Saikan, which is the symbol of Shijo Street. The Vories built only a few commercial buildings, and Tohka Saikan is the only restaurant in a Vories building. The Komai House in Sakyo Ward is another Vories building that I came to know about later. Just the other day, while walking in Kyoto, I saw a building that was familiar to the city but gave off an unusual aura, and when I looked it up, I learned that it was the oldest Vories building in the city. The building is called "Kyoto University YMCA Chien Student Dormitory.” The ultimate in the "Daimaru Kyoto Store." Before going to work at the Sanjo showroom, I stopped to look at a display of decorative lamps in a corner of the Daimaru entrance. It said that Vories had designed the Kyoto store following the Daimaru Shinsaibashi store. The "eight-pointed star," a star-shaped polygon with eight corners that is striking in Daimaru's designs, is used in Vories' buildings in various locations and is a motif that symbolizes the design of Vories' architecture.

Last year, when I visited Omihachiman for the first time on a trip, I saw many early Vories buildings in Omihachiman, where the Vories were based, and I was surprised to see so many Vories' buildings blending into Kyoto as well. Vories' buildings are characterized not only by their concise and elegant designs that harmonize with their surroundings but also by their practicality and adaptability to the Japanese climate and living habits. If you keep this story in mind when you are walking around town, you may unexpectedly come across a Vories building somewhere in the city.

Tohka Saikan Main Shop
Komai House
Chien Student Dormitory
Daimaru Kyoto Store
Vories Memorial Hall
Sanjo Showroom