The residence of the Japanese Ambassador was designed in 1931 in the neo-Georgian style, which was popular in the 1920s and 1930s. Designed by the prominent firm of Delano and Aldrich, the residence, with its teahouse and subsidiary buildings, sits among landscaped gardens and complements the scale and dignity of its Massachusetts Avenue neighbors. Additionally, the design of the embassy includes elements that bear the influence of Japanese architecture.
Although emissaries of the Japanese government had been received since 1860, the Japanese legation was only raised to an embassy in 1906, following the suggestion of Theodore Roosevelt. The new residence, completed in 1932, marked a decade of unrest in Japanese–U.S. relations that began when Japan took over Manchuria in October of 1931 and ended in the severance of relations when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in December 1941. As the U.S. entered World War II, the government took the building into its custody, and the Japanese ambassador and other Japanese diplomats were sent into internment at Hot Springs, Virginia.
After 1952, the embassy was returned to Japanese hands. In the years since, the embassy grounds have seen the addition of a rock garden and a teahouse that celebrate the U.S.–Japan diplomatic relationship.
DC Inventory: November 8, 1964 (Joint Committee on Landmarks)
National Register: February 20, 1973