Naruto Culture Center

A Regional Arcadia

Naruto Culture Center

Standing in a scenic location, the building has the appearance of a seaside Parthenon. It was designed by Tomoya Masuda, an architect and a professor at Kyoto University. Due to a personal connection to the mayor of Naruto, who remained in office for almost 30 years, Masuda was able to realize approximately 20 public buildings in the town, including this posthumous work, based on his own philosophical theory of architecture. Though there was a clear effort to centralize the country in Tokyo after World War II, regional governments and widespread wealth helped produce many notable architects who were fostered by specific regions. Masuda is one good example.

Watanabe Memorial Hall

Stunning Symbolism

Watanabe Memorial Hall

The Watanabe Memorial Hall is a music hall that was completed in 1937. It is located in center of a city with a population of about 170,000 people. Sukesaku Watanabe was a Japanese entrepreneur who had founded a company that represents the region, and after his death in 1934 the hall was built by an affiliated company and was donated to the city in his commemoration. The building was designed by Togo Murano. Seemingly drawing inspiration from Le Corbusier’s plans for the Palace of the Soviets (1932), its fan-shaped plane, three-layer curving structure, and six independent columns makes this building stunningly symbolic. Another predominant feature of this building is its appropriation of the findings of architectural acoustics that at the time had been considered state-of-the-art.

  • Watanabe Memorial Hall

    Ube, Yamaguchi Prefecture

    Togo Murano

    1937

    http://wmh.ube-bunzai.jp/4

    Photo credit Masayori Yano

  • Watanabe Memorial Hall

    Ube, Yamaguchi Prefecture

    Togo Murano

    1937

    http://wmh.ube-bunzai.jp/4

    Photo courtesy of Ube City Culture Creative Foundation

Hiroshima Naka Incineration Plant

Making NIMBY Beautiful

Hiroshima Naka Incineration Plant

The architect Yoshio Taniguchi, who had won the competition to redesign the Museum of Modern Art, New York, was responsible for the design of the Hiroshima Naka Incineration Plant. The incineration plant is a so-called “NIMBY” (not in my backyard) facility, yet here based on the philosophy of the architect, the plant takes on a straightforward factory-like appearance on the exterior while actively showing its high level of functionality on the inside. A glass box is installed as a means to allow visitors to “observe” the incinerators in operation. Appearing as a continuous extension of the road that approaches the plant, the box is positioned to so as to penetrate the building. The incinerators that process waste garbage without emitting any sounds or smell, thus presents visitors with a certain sense of awe.

  • Hiroshima Naka Incineration Plant

    Hiroshima, Hiroshima Prefecture

    Yoshio Taniguchi 

    2004

    Photo credit: Toshiharu Kitajima

  • Hiroshima Naka Incineration Plant

    Hiroshima, Hiroshima Prefecture

    Yoshio Taniguchi 

    2004

    Photo credit: Toshiharu Kitajima

The Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Building

The Reinforced Face of the Bund

The Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Building

The Kobe Bund (seafront road) was a familiar scene in prewar Japan. This structure, built in 1922, conveys the splendor of yesteryear while remaining functional today. Though the building survived a massive earthquake in 1995, highly resilient seismic reinforcements were installed behind the unchanging facade in 2012 to ensure that the structure endures for many years in the future. The building perfectly integrates a visual appearance that rivals its European counterparts, and structural features that are necessary to deal with the uniquely Japanese problem of earthquakes.

  • The Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Building

    Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture

    Setsu Watanabe 

    1922

  • The Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Building

    Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture

    Setsu Watanabe 

    1922

The Japan Mint

Marking a Turbulent Era

The Japan Mint

In 1871, a huge foundry, built by the newly launched Meiji government, began operations. Located near the old Osaka Castle, the Japan Mint’s chimney emitted a trail of smoke that was seen by local residents as a mark of civilization and enlightenment, and the facility heralded the arrival of modern industry in the area. The entryway to the mint’s foundry and a reception house called the Senpukan (the only parts that remain from the original structure) exemplify the legacy of the English engineer Thomas Waters, who designed the mint before going on to create a brick-lined area in Tokyo’s Ginza district. The building also conveys the turbulent times after the start of the Meiji administration, when the meaning of many places was in the process of being redefined.

  • The Japan Mint

    Kita, Osaka

    Thomas Waters

    1871

    Photo credit: Kiyoshi Nishioka

  • The Japan Mint

    Kita, Osaka

    Thomas Waters

    1871

    Photo credit: Kiyoshi Nishioka

Underground Platforms on the Osaka Municipal Subway’s Midosuji Line

The Future Lies Underground

Underground Platforms on the Osaka Municipal Subway’s Midosuji Line

In 1933, the City of Osaka opened the Osaka City Rapid Railway Line No.1 (now the Midosuji Subway Line) as part of an integrated urban development project centering on Midosuji, a major thoroughfare, during the so-called “Great Osaka Era,” when the city’s prosperity exceeded that of Tokyo. The platforms in the subway stations, designed with an eye on the future to accommodate longer trains, were equipped with arched ceilings but no columns to support them. The expansive station spaces, with unobstructed views, improved on every aspect of Tokyo’s subway system, which was constructed several years earlier. In fact, they were endowed with so much foresight that they still seem innovative.

  • Underground Platforms on the Osaka Municipal Subway’s Midosuji Line

    Osaka Prefecture

    1933

    Courtesy of Osaka Municipal Transportation Bureau

  • Underground Platforms on the Osaka Municipal Subway’s Midosuji Line

    Osaka Prefecture

    1933

    Courtesy of Osaka Municipal Transportation Bureau

Lake Biwa Canal

A Complex Infrastructure that Breathed New Life into Kyoto

Lake Biwa Canal

In Kyoto, the old capital of Japan, there is a waterway, built in 1890, which continues to carry water from Lake Biwa into the city. This was part of a complex infrastructure project (including a waterway, power generation, and water transportation) designed to revive Kyoto as a modern industrial city after it began to fall into decline when the nation’s capital was transferred to Tokyo. Created entirely by Japanese people, the project produced a succession of Japanese technological firsts. Boldly, almost brutally, penetrating the grounds of a Zen Buddhist temple, the epitome of tradition and social status, the Nanzen-ji Aqueduct conveys the passion for change that pervaded the era.

  • Lake Biwa Canal

    Otsu, Shiga Prefecture

    Kyoto Prefecture

    Sakuro Tanabe 

    1890

    Courtesy of Kyoto City Waterworks Bureau

  • Lake Biwa Canal

    Otsu, Shiga Prefecture

    Kyoto Prefecture

    Sakuro Tanabe 

    1890

    Courtesy of Kyoto City Waterworks Bureau

La Collina Omihachiman

Confectionery and Agriculture

La Collina Omihachiman

A site established by a renowned confectionery manufacturing and retail company. The building with the grass-covered roof is the main shop. Behind the shop is a large rice paddy, and beyond that is a farm used for collaborative agricultural research with universities, further connecting to the mountains (“massif”) that extend in the backdrop. Situated on the opposite side of the hill is Japan’s largest lake. In this respect, the site was established not only as a place for purchasing confectioneries and enjoying a pleasant moment to have tea and sweets, but also as a hub for thinking about the importance of networks between the satoyama (managed woodlands or grasslands near human settlements), forest, and ocean (water), and researching means for maintaining them.

Shima Kanko Hotel

“Railroad Resort” in a National Park

Shima Kanko Hotel

This hotel was established in a scenic region with a saw-toothed coastline, in a place famous for pearl cultivation. After World War II, it developed into one of Japan’s most acclaimed “railroad resorts.” The designer was Togo Murano, who based his practice in Osaka and mainly designed private buildings. Murano was a top-class practitioner from 1929, when he started his office, until 1984, when he died at age 93. The sensitivity of Murano’s designs, which appeal to human emotions, is expressed in the way the hotel building responds to its site, a national park.

Genbe River (Mishima City)

A River Regenerated through “Groundwork”

Genbe River (Mishima City)

An agricultural water supply that extends a distance of 1.5 kilometers, deriving its source from the groundwater of Mt. Fuji. Residents who lived along the river had once appropriated the water for domestic use. In the 1960s during Japan’s period of high economic growth however, factories located in the upstream had pumped much of the groundwater, resulting in a significant reduction in the amount of spring water and causing pollution of the river. In 1992, an organization was formed based on UK ‘s “Groundwork,” a group that engages in environmental improvements through the cooperation of the public and private sectors. Companies had decided to supply the river with factory cooling water to compensate for the depleted water, with members of the local community taking part in cleaning activities to create a biotope. Today the environment has been regenerated, enabling fireflies to be seen on summer nights.

  • Genbe River (Mishima City)

    Mishima, Shizuoka Prefecture

    Courtesy of GROUNDWORK MISHIMA

  • Genbe River (Mishima City)

    Mishima, Shizuoka Prefecture

    Courtesy of GROUNDWORK MISHIMA

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