King Leopold II saw the Japanese Tower when he visited the 1900 World Fair in Paris. It had been built by a carpenter based in Tokyo and it served as the entrance porch to the Japanese Pagoda at the World Fair.
The Japanese Tower has 5 roofed storeys representing the five Elements: earth, water, fire, wind and sky from which Buddhists believe all things are created. When the World Fair ended and the temporary structures dismantled and sold, King Leopold bought the Japanese Tower and had it relocated to Laeken.
The King commissioned the French architect Alexandre Marcel to build a wooden pavilion onto the Japanese tower. This architect was also responsible for building the Chinese Pavilion across the road.
The external ornamental-work on the Japanese Tower was created by Japanese workers based in Yokohama, and the surrounding gardens contain many Japanese plants. The Japanese Tower opened in 1905. Here is a postcard sent from Brussels to Nürnberg Bavaria on 14 March 1915. Note the ornamental lanterns hanging from the corners of each roof.
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