I first met Akio at the UIA Congress in Brighton in 1987. That chance meeting changed my life.
Akio is a man for our time.
In Japanese "aki" means "of the epoch" and "o" means "man". Akio thus means "a man of his time".
Akio Hayashi, one of Japan's great architects, is indeed a man for our time. Akio recognises the need to see beyond architecture to its impact on the planet as a whole. Having identified the two key architectural issues of our time Akio founded "Japan Architects for Peace and Environment". Akio, like Thoreau, thought "What use is a house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on?"
"Hayashi" means "forest". Akio loves timber. He caresses the timbers of a three hundred year old Japanese temple and notes how repairs have been made with a plug of new timber. For him sustainability is a spiritual quest. He is steeped in old rituals and old traditions, and yet he always looks forward to what might be. His Kimono Museum in Maebashi, for example, is timeless.
Akio's love of timber led him into the jungles of Sarawak to see how the hardwoods of the world were being destroyed by profligate architecture. As a man of action his observation led to his campaign to reduce Japan's use of unsustainable timber. It was a triumph.
Akio loves life, just as he loves timber. His quick wit, acute observation and sense of fun make him a delight to be with. He attracts other people who also love life, and he earns their respect. He works hard when he is alone, but then loves to be with people. He dances late into the Argentinian night and it is not a surprise to find that his new Tokyo house has a dance studio in the basement.
It is also no surprise that the house should be an exemplary example of solar design. It is warm and cosy when the snow lies thick on the ground outside, and Akio delights in his high technology monitoring of the OM system. His commitment to constantly exploring what sustainable architecture might be has led to him transforming the JIA, the Japan Institute of Architecture.
Akio edited the JIA Sustainable Design Guides which bring together both best practice and simple steps for any architect to take to improve the world. He has also made seminal ecological texts available through translating them into Japanese. "Ecological Design" by Sim van der Ryn and Stewart Cowan, for example, is now available to Japanese readers. Akio's own writing features in numerous publications, including books such as "Sustainable Architecture, A Report from the Forefront".
Akio's scholarship led to him being appointed a Professor at the new School of Environmental Science, University of Shiga Prefecture, at Lake Biwa. His universal interests make him an ideal person to inspire younger architects. His humility stands in contrast to the global trend towards ego-driven architecture.
At the UIA Congress in Brighton in 1987 Akio was a founding member of IAPPNW, which was to become Arc-Peace. Two years later his Peace Garden at Maebashi won an award at the Prague Assembly in the days leading up to the Velvet Revolution. When the dust from the collapse of the Berlin Wall had settled Akio invited members of Arc-Peace to Japan to speak to AfP. His hospitality was legendary.
Akio played an important role in numerous Arc-Peace meetings all over the world. He has always been a man of few words but his every comment reflects both his wisdom and his brilliant intellect. The twinkle in his eye allows him to be incisive and yet to never give offence.
Akio Hayashi's commitment to peace and environment was recently recognised when he was made a Life Member of Arc-Peace.
This citation for Akio was first published in the Arc-Peace Newsletter No 20 August 2006.
Tempura with Akio in Tokyo
Jazz with Akio in Tokyo
Stair in Akio's Maebashi house
My tatami room
Akio and Pop 2011
In 2011 I was once again privildged to enjoy the wonderful hospitality of Akio and Kazuko. My personal diary of that journey can be found at www.tony-watkins.com/content/view/588/92/
Storage for my bedding
My shoji 2011
My office 2011
An Iogi shrine 2011
An Iogi shrine 2011
A typical Iogi street
Iogi bicycle pound 2011
Akio and Miki 2011
Kazuko, Akio and Pop 2011
Entry to the dance studio 2011
Kazuko's garden 2011
Garden entry to the house 2011