My photo in the Royal Academy of Arts

Mike GristArchitecture, Japan 3 Comments

Two of my Tokyo architecture photos are currently on display in the Royal Academy of Arts, in London. They are part of an exhibition entitled Weird, Wacky and Wonderful in the Architecture space. That is pretty cool. I was contacted a month or so back about the exhibition- with regard to this funky Gundam building in Shibuya: It’s actually part of a local college for architecture. I went to the Gundam building ages ago, when I was into photographing odd buildings just as much as I was into shooting haikyo. You can see more photos of it here. The Royal …

Jan Jornmark Sweden’s premier urbexer

Mike GristArchitecture, Featured Story, Haikyo, Haikyo in the Media 3 Comments

A while back Sweden’s premier urban explorer Jan Jornmark got in contact with me about doing some haikyo together in Japan. He was on tour for his third book (on the heels of two bestsellers of mostly Swedish ruin- you won’t find them on Amazon unless you search in Swedish), coming hot from Detroit and looking for some cool stuff in Japan. Jan’s a fascinating guy- a professor in globalization, expert on bubbles and economic collapse- whom companies that own old buildings in Sweden PAY to go into their buildings prior to refurbishment and shoot the ruins, then prep a …

Tokyo’s Urban Battleship

Mike GristArchitecture, Featured Story, Haikyo, Japan, Residential, Tokyo-to 15 Comments

Tokyo’s urban battleship glides through the ever-changing cityscape like a predatory shark- its mad crescent fin stocked with slate-grey torpedoes and radar foils- hunting out fresh prey for the saw-blade teeth ratcheted down its flat-iron side. Built in 1970 by the retired Imperial Navy general Watanabe Youji, the urban battleship building (GUNKAN) was apparently inspired by a World War 2 sea-battle, where Watanabe’s cruiser faced an American submarine off the coast of the Philippines. The entire crew expected to die, stared down the barrel of death, but ultimately survived.Sailing for fresh apartment blocks to bomb with water-tank torpedoes. Gliding through …

Sensouji Temple, Asakusa

Mike GristArchitecture, Japan Leave a Comment

Ages ago now I went to Sensouji Temple for some reason, I can’t really remember. SY and I were doing a bit of Tokyo tourism I guess. I prepped these photos months ago but never got round to posting them, so here they are. If you like looking at shrines, you might enjoy these.

Belly of the Whale – Yurakucho Forum

Mike GristArchitecture, Japan 6 Comments

I’ve wanted to shoot the interior of the Yurakucho International Forum for some time, but only now got round to doing it- pushed ahead by a meeting with international jet-setter and club photographer Joshua Dearing. We did a photowalk around the structure, then through Ginza, finishing up in the big Starbucks where we talked plenty about extending life and Apple’s next product release. HDR of 3 RAW images stopped 2 f’s apart, with Color Efex Pro applied.

Kabuki-za, Kyobashi

Mike GristArchitecture 5 Comments

The Kabuki-za is a fancy-pants theater in Ginza for the screening of Kabuki- a highly stylized and traditional (read ‘boring to most people’) form of storied stage performance. The Kabuki-za is famous as the principal theater for this kind of show in Tokyo- with a long and varied history dating all the way back to 1924.

Shizuoka Shimbun Building, Shimbashi

Mike GristArchitecture 4 Comments

The headquarters of the Shizuoka newspaper in Shimbashi, Tokyo, is another Kenzo Tange building- he of Fuji Terebi and the Tocho. It resembles nothing so much as a giant mutated baobab tree, vivid rust-colored and sprouting fat boughs that elide in stubby endings, on one side its groping knubs reaching out to latch onto the closest building.

Gundam Building, Shibuya

Mike GristArchitecture 1 Comment

The Gundam building in Shibuya rests on its axled haunches like the ultimate guard-dog, anxiously awaiting the day it will be called into service to leap-frog into battle to protect its city, tackling Mothra or some other evil invading alien with its fire-eyes and laser tail. It also keeps a close eye on those ‘satellites’ launched out of North Korea, ready to leap up and catch them in its big red mouth as if they were frisbees. Mobile suit, baby!

Asahi Flame, Asakusa

Mike GristArchitecture 6 Comments

The Asahi ‘Flame’ building on the Asakusa banks of the Sumida river is infamous in Tokyo for its eponymous ‘flame’, a huge golden piece of art juxtaposed atop the obelisk-like black building; intended to represent the freedom and grace of a good head of foam on a glass of Asahi beer. It has however been dubbed by many the ‘flying golden turd’ or ‘golden tadpole’; another sad instance of too much art-like sensibility and not enough common sense. Asahi ‘Flame’ Building.

Tokyo Big Sight, Odaiba

Mike GristArchitecture 7 Comments

Tokyo Big Sight in Odaiba is one of the biggest exhibition spaces in Tokyo, featuring two huge halls East and West plus several conference rooms and a 1,100 seater auditorium in the main building- which is curiously shaped out of four upside-down pyramids. Why is it shaped out of four upside-down pyramids? Nobody knows. I suppose this is another case of function being completely unrelated to form, with form taking off on a flight of fancy to Never-Neverland. The last time we saw this was with the Edo-Tokyo museum, which got me ranting about WASTE! and VACUOUS DESIGN! and GOVERNMENT …