The National Art Center in Roppongi is a funky-chic blend of high-tech glass panelling with a utilitarian ethos that denies the standard limitations of space. The exterior ripples like a breaking wave, its sliced-and-diced stylings constantly catching refractions from the sun, remaking its contours in blotches of dizzying light.Â Inside there are islands of cone-shaped concrete capped with coffee shops attainable only by bridges from upper floors, coming together within the wave-like facade in a cavernous lobby to create the idea of a wide open space comprised of a series of intimate and distinct areas. UFO rising.
The Docomo Tower in Shinjuku soars over the Southern exit / Yoyogi area like a great pink middle finger, thumbing its nose at the graceless cluster-bomb mess of old-modern Shinjuku with its super-sleek lines, haute-couture design domination, and clean parallels to other auspicious buildings like Big Ben and the Empire State Building. At 492 feet high, it houses 28 stories of pure DoCoMo goodness, capped with the Gothic-esque bell-tower clock-face, complete with flying buttresses. From the bridge over the tracks in front of Takashimaya.
The Edo-Tokyo Museum in Ryogoku is one of the ugliest and most pointless buildings I’ve yet seen in Tokyo. A giant clunky trapezoid on 4 legs in grey concrete, fissured with juts and wedges and all manner of go-faster stripes, layered with a shrine-like blocky hat, faced with a child-like mosaic paddling pool, dashed round with white umbrella-like gazebos, it adds up to precisely nothing. It’s just ugly, and pointless- in no way calling back the Edo period, or for that matter the Jomon period, or the Meiji period, or any period from any history in the world. It’s just …
Waseda University, also affectionately known as ‘So-dai’, is one of the top private universities in Japan. Built in 1882, it has since serviced up such cultural and historical giants as the writer Haruki Murakami and the ex-Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda (he was PM for not quite a year 07-08 before wimping out). It was founded by samurai scholar and ex-PM Okuma Shigenobu, upon whose death the Okuma auditorium, AKA Waseda clocktower, was built. Waseda Clock-tower.
Ginza is the core amygdala in the tightly-twined morass of Tokyo’s brain, a nerve center firing off directional impulses telling people what to wear, how to look, what to buy, and who to be. Amongst the district’s densely packed grid of un-signposted streets some of the grandest global corporations can be found- De Beers, Mikimoto, Hermes and so on, parading their garlanded facades like buxom debutantes at the inaugural ball. Look a little harder though, down a few of the shadier backstreets, off the beaten track, and you’ll find the hidden gems of Ginza, the subtle impulses that cut through …
Ginza is the bustling beating heart of high class fashion and commerce in Japan, a labyrinthine grid of broad and narrow streets bristling with corporate headquarters, flagship stores, and chic designer boutiques, sprawled over several square kilometers just a few stops from Tokyo station. Amongst its ultra-elite avenues and alleyways are some incredibly bold front-facade designs, ranging from tie-stores built out of solid glass bricks to port-hole crazy office towers. This is the first in a 2-part series- the second is ‘10 Office-Front Facades‘, coming soon.
13 views of Fuji Terebi, Odaiba, mimics a well-known tradition in Japanese art: collected ukiyoe (wood-block) paintings of Mt. Fuji from multiple locations and angles, in varying weather conditions. This style of art became famous with a collection of 36 prints from artist Katsushika Hokusai around 1830, copied many times by many different artists in many different styles. Here- I add my take on it, with the Fuji Terebi (television) building in Odaiba.
I’ve always loved Transformers. Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Hot Rod, the lot. When I was a kid I collected them, once narrowly missing out on an original Megatron (used of course) at the Corn Exchange in Manchester due to not having the requisite fiver, though I partially made up for that by hunting out several of the Dinobots hidden deep in the shelving on the second floor of Boydell’s toy store in Bolton. Once in Boston, MA I found a used Soundwave (tape recorder) and snapped it up at once, along with I think Ravage the puma-tape, but I’m not sure, …
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