Nichiren Shoshu announced its plan to demolish the Sho Hondo (the Grand Main Temple).
(Held on May 19, 1998, 6:30pm, Japanese Institute of Architects Hall)
Nichiren Shoshu Head Temple Taiseki-ji recently announced its plan to demolish the Sho Hondo (the Grand Main Temple) for the reason that it was no longer needed. The Sho Hondo is a monumental masterpiece of modern religious architecture completed in 1972 with which we as architects are all familiar. According to Taiseki-ji’s plan, the demolition is expected to cost over 4.8 billion yen ($35 million) and take 2 years. Nichiren Shoshu reportedly claim that the blemishes on some marble surfaces and minor damage found in the mortar finish on the edifice indicate erosion of the steel bars caused by ocean sand mixed in the concrete. Obviously, such groundless justification for the demolition hardly deserves attention.
The demolition plan is a matter of grave concern for us architects since religious architecture is meant to last for an extended period of time for public use. That is the essential prerequisite for all design and construction work involved in building religious edifices. The Sho Hondo is not a commercial building for which economical efficiency is top priority. It is modern architecture for religious use created with design, specifications, and construction work all of extraordinary quality. It would be an unprecedented outrage to level it merely 26 years after its completion. Such unreasonable destruction could only happen in an abnormal situation, such as war or fire. The demolition of the Sho Hondo is not acceptable in a peaceful, democratic country like Japan.
Mr. Kimio Yokoyama, the designer of the Sho Hondo, stated as follows:
The Sho Hondo is regarded as a significant edifice among architects. Moreover, it is a landmark in architectural culture. It would be an antisocial, barbaric insult to the human spirit and endeavors to destroy it.
The Sho Hondo’s structure was engineered by Dr. Shigeru Aoki, one of Japan’s leading authorities on structural engineering. He adopted the unique approach of a semi-rigid suspension roof so the structure would achieve supreme wind and seismic resistance and an enormous uninterrupted space inside. This is a well known fact among structural engineers.
Furthermore, Mr. Yoshimune Zaitsu, job site supervisor on the Sho Hondo project, criticizes the demolition plan as follows:
A joint venture involving 6 leading construction companies representing Japan’s construction industry gave heart and soul to the creation of the Sho Hondo. Demolishing this world-class asset only two and a half decades after its completion is utter nonsense. It will certainly meet with outcries from the industry as well as the public at large.
If we are to view the Sho Hondo as one of the fruits of our civilization, crystallizing the people’s lofty ideals and goodwill and numerous workers’ superior craftsmanship, its destruction for arbitrary reasons will be deplorably unacceptable to us members of the architectural community.
The Group of Architects to Advocate the Preservation of the Sho Hondo was formed by architects who oppose the senseless demolition of the Sho Hondo in order to campaign for the eternal preservation of the Sho Hondo that is cherished in many people’s hearts.
We plan to hold this Symposium for the Preservation of the Sho Hondo: a World-class Building in order to discuss the significance of the edifice and the absurdity of its demolition, in the hope of passing down to future generations this model of architectural culture which is a product of human endeavors. Your understanding and support will be greatly appreciated.
Representative Dr. Takamasa Miyazaki, Professor of Engineering in Architecture, Nippon University Secretary general Tan Hirose, Kenchiku Kikaku Kenkyujo (Architecture Planning Laboratory, Inc.)
The Group of Architects to Advocate the Preservation of the Sho Hondo Telephone: 03(3425) 9016 Fax:03(3426) 2202