Nago City Hall

Architecture as an Expression of Regional Identity

Nago City Hall

Nago is a city at the north of Okinawa’s main island. Its city hall, realized in 1981, has city offices surrounded by pergolas and terraces, which create comfortable, shaded spaces that welcome citizens. Its design also includes shisa (traditional Ryukyuan lion-dog figures) and flower-patterned concrete blocks—popular motifs, not official ones, intended to increase people’s familiarity with the building. Atelier Zo, the designers, went on to complete the Yilan County Hall in Yilan, Taiwan (1997) and other works expressing regional identity, as distinct from national identity.

  • Nago City Hall

    Nago, Okinawa Prefecture

    Atelier ZO 

    1981

  • Nago City Hall

    Nago, Okinawa Prefecture

    Atelier ZO 

    1981

Uchinoura Space Center (Former Kagoshima Space Center, The University of Tokyo)

Design that Escaped the Gravity of Conventional Wisdom

Uchinoura Space Center (Former Kagoshima Space Center, The University of Tokyo)

This rocket launch complex, completed in 1962, was based on a grand design for building supersonic, sub-orbital rockets that might one day replace conventional transport aircrafts. It is one of only a few such facilities to be built in a mountainous region. Architect Kiyoshi Ikebe designed the complex according to his unique theory of form. The common postwar belief that Japan had lost the war due to shortcomings in logic and science inspired him to realize a design that escaped the gravity, so to speak, of conventional wisdom.

  • Uchinoura Space Center (Former Kagoshima Space Center, The University of Tokyo)

    Kimotsuki, Kagoshima Prefecture

    Kiyoshi Ikebe, Institute of Industrial Science, the University of Tokyo

    1962

    http://global.jaxa.jp/about/centers/usc/index.html 

    Photo credit: Shokokusha Photographers

  • Uchinoura Space Center (Former Kagoshima Space Center, The University of Tokyo)

    Kimotsuki, Kagoshima Prefecture

    Kiyoshi Ikebe, Institute of Industrial Science, the University of Tokyo

    1962

    http://global.jaxa.jp/about/centers/usc/index.html 

    Photo credit: Shokokusha Photographers

Sogi Falls Flood Diversion Channel

Avoiding Torrential Rains by Constructing a New Environment

Sogi Falls Flood Diversion Channel

The record-breaking torrential rains of 2006 caused enormous damage to the Sendai River Basin. As an emergency measure against future disasters, a flood diversion channel was built at Sogi Falls in 2011. The channel, roughly carved into the rocky ground, was the result of a new experiment to incorporate every step of the construction process, from a careful examination during the initial design phase to the trial and error of making the site. Designed to invoke nature’s tolerant spirit, the site not only satisfies functions like disaster recovery and protection, it is equipped with the amenities needed for a sightseeing destination and a rich environment.

  • Sogi Falls Flood Diversion Channel

    Isa, Kagoshima Prefecture

    Yukihiro Shimatani, Yuji Hoshino 

    2011

  • Sogi Falls Flood Diversion Channel

    Isa, Kagoshima Prefecture

    Yukihiro Shimatani, Yuji Hoshino 

    2011

Hyugashi Station

A New Core for a Regional City

Hyugashi Station

Centering on a project to build a railway station, a new public space was constructed with the aim of rejuvenating the city of Hyuga. The station, comprising a glass facade that visually conveys people’s movements, and a hybrid structure made of steel and wood, emerged as a symbolic presence in the city. This was accentuated by an exchange square with a green lawn, and a variety of facilities made with an abundance of locally grown cedar. The station promises to retain its place as the core of the city while the surrounding area develops over a period of many years.

  • Hyugashi Station

    Hyuga, Miyazaki Prefecture

    Hiroshi Naito 

    2008

    Photo credit: Makoto Yoshida (Previously published in “Nikkei Architecture” May 12, 2008 Issue)

  • Hyugashi Station

    Hyuga, Miyazaki Prefecture

    Hiroshi Naito 

    2008

    Photo credit: Makoto Yoshida (Previously published in “Nikkei Architecture” May 12, 2008 Issue)

Kaze-no-Oka Crematorium

Architecture Integrated with its Landscape

Kaze-no-Oka Crematorium

Fumihiko Maki, known as an unwavering modernist with a soft demeanor, completed this crematorium in 1996. The building reveals Maki’s deft response to an age concerned with environment. Maki designed the whole site as a landscape that seems to include the surrounding environment. Undecorated forms and textures of unprocessed materials convey a sense a spirituality far exceeding the basic functionality of a place for end-of-life gatherings. The resulting work of architecture transcends the modern by resonating with its place and history.

  • Kaze-no-Oka Crematorium

    Nakatu, Oita Prefecture

    Fumihiko Maki 

    1996

    Photo credit: Toshiharu Kitajima

  • Kaze-no-Oka Crematorium

    Nakatu, Oita Prefecture

    Fumihiko Maki 

    1996

    Photo credit: Toshiharu Kitajima

Art Plaza (Former Oita Prefectural Library)

Departure from the Restrictions of Modern Architecture

Art Plaza (Former Oita Prefectural Library)

Oita Prefectural Library is the most important pre-1970 work by Arata Isozaki, who after 1970 became Japan’s most influential architect. The building’s impressive spaces invite various interpretations and were formed to serve more than one function. As originally conceived, this building signaled a departure from the dogmatism of modern architecture; later, it signaled a departure from the dogmatic view that modern buildings should be demolished when no longer fulfilling their original functions.

  • Art Plaza (Former Oita Prefectural Library)

    Oita, Oita Prefecture

    Arata Isozaki 

    1966

    Photo credit: Ryuji Miyamoto

  • Art Plaza (Former Oita Prefectural Library)

    Oita, Oita Prefecture

    Arata Isozaki 

    1966

    Photo credit: Ryuji Miyamoto

The Former Takatori Family Residence

Edo Traditions Expanded through Modern Development

The Former Takatori Family Residence

Koreyoshi Takatori was born into a samurai family. After studying modern mining technology, he established himself as the “King of Coal Mining” by developing the Kishima mine into the source of a quarter of Kyushu’s total coal yield. Takatori’s private residence, built at the end of the 19th century and greatly expanded at the beginning of the 20th century, is essentially an extension of Edo Period shoin-zukuri architecture, with numerous tatami-floored rooms surrounding a pond in the inner courtyard. Equipped with a special stage to perform Noh theatre, a necessary skill for Edo Period samurai, the residence also contains some of the highest quality traditional fusuma and panel paintings in the country.

  • The Former Takatori Family Residence

    Karatsu, Saga Prefecture

    1904

    Courtesy of Karatsu City

  • The Former Takatori Family Residence

    Karatsu, Saga Prefecture

    1904

    Courtesy of Karatsu City

Kawachi Reservoir

A Dam Project Rooted in Strong Determination

Kawachi Reservoir

In the mountains of Kitakyushu, there is a reservoir that was built to provide industrial water for a steel works. The reservoir and related facilities were created with distinctive techniques in a painstaking manner, producing civil-engineering works that were visually integrated into the surrounding area. As Kawachi Reservoir was built in 1927 in order to meet the need for industrial water at the Imperial Steel Works that arose with the sudden demand for steel after World War I, visitors can sense the strong determination of Hisanori Numata, who oversaw the design and construction of the overall project.

  • Kawachi Reservoir

    Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture

    Hisanori Numata 

    1927

    Photo Credit: Takuya Omura

  • Kawachi Reservoir

    Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture

    Hisanori Numata 

    1927

    Photo Credit: Takuya Omura

Low-water Crossings on the Shimanto River

A Symbiotic Relationship with Nature

Low-water Crossings on the Shimanto River

Over 60 low-water crossings, mostly built in the 1950s, can still be found in southwestern Shikoku, a common typhoon path where the Shimanto River and its tributaries are subject to flooding. With rounded girders on both ends and no handrails, the bridges, which serve as life lines between villages and the forests and farmlands, have in part shaped the regional culture. The Shimanto River, which escaped the large-scale development projects that were undertaken as part of modernization, is part of a cultural landscape, based on a symbiotic relationship with nature, including natural disasters, that has been strongly maintained in the region.

  • Low-water Crossings on the Shimanto River

    Shimanto, Kochi Prefecture

    Photo Credit: Takuya Omura

  • Low-water Crossings on the Shimanto River

    Shimanto, Kochi Prefecture

    Photo Credit: Takuya Omura

Shikoku

Shikoku

The smallest of the four main islands, Shikoku (which literally means “four countries”) comprises the four prefectures of Tokushima, Kagawa, Ehime, and Kochi. The Pacific Ocean and Seto Inland Sea surrounds this island group, with the Pacific side consisting of the portion located to the south of Shikoku’s mountain range. The region has a relatively warm climate with some areas experiencing more rain throughout the year.

  • Seto Inland Sea Folk History Museum

  • Naoshima Town Hall

  • Imabari City Office Complex (City Hall, City Assembly, and Public Hall)

  • Low-water Crossings on the Shimanto River