Nagoya City Hall and Aichi Prefectural Office Main Building

Deviating from Modernism on the Road to Postwar Architecture

Nagoya City Hall and Aichi Prefectural Office Main Building

These two buildings from the 1930s are both topped with sloping roofs, a conscious decision based on the presence of nearby Nagoya Castle. This style, which made direct reference to Japanese and Asian traditions, was commonly known as the “Imperial-crown” style after World War II. Although the style was consciously avoided in a slight deviation from modernization, this drove postwar architects to create their own original ideas as an extension of the international style, which in turn elevated Japanese architecture to a global standard.

  • Aichi Prefectural Office

    Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture

    Yoshitoki Nishimura, Jin Watanabe

    1938

  • Nagoya City Hall

    Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture

    Kingo Hirabayashi

    1933

Traditional Tea-grass Integrated System

Grass that Produces Delectable Green Tea

Traditional Tea-grass Integrated System

The Shizuoka Prefecture accounts for 40 % of Japan’s tea production. Within the Midwest area of the prefecture, a unique farming practice is implemented. The tea fields are surrounded by grasslands comprising of Japanese silver grass and bamboo, and once a year between the fall and winter this grassland is mown, after which the grass is dried out, finely chopped, and laid out between the ridges of the tea fields. This not only prevents the drying of soil and the outflow of fertilizer, but also makes it possible to produce high quality leaf mold. Furthermore, biological diversity is preserved in this “semi-natural” grassland, resulting in this farming method being designated as a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems(GIAHS).

  • Traditional Tea-grass Integrated System

    Kakegawa, Kikugawa, Shimada, Makinohara, and Kawanehon, Shizuoka Prefecture

    http://www.chagusaba.jp

  • Traditional Tea-grass Integrated System

    Kakegawa, Kikugawa, Shimada, Makinohara, and Kawanehon, Shizuoka Prefecture

    http://www.chagusaba.jp

Circular Tank Diversion Works

Visualizing Water Distribution and Avoiding Conflict

Circular Tank Diversion Works

In 1939, the introduction of numerous circular tank diversion works, which distribute water in an equal manner, in a terrace that stretches along the right bank of the Tenryu River, led to the largest group of such facilities in Japan. This water-distribution system uses a syphon in the center of the cylinder to eject water and create a uniform surface. Then the water is precisely distributed by streaming it through a given number of holes in the exterior wall, the volume and flow velocity of the water do not need to be adjusted, and any sort of visual deception is impossible. While deeply rooted in equity, the system’s emphasis on avoiding conflict says something about the Japanese character.

  • Circular Tank Diversion Works

    Ina, Tatsuno, Minowa, and Minamiminowa, Nagano Prefecture

    1939

  • Circular Tank Diversion Works

    Ina, Tatsuno, Minowa, and Minamiminowa, Nagano Prefecture

    1939

The Former Kaichi School

A Curious Example of Westernization

The Former Kaichi School

After the nation adopted a modern education system, this elementary school was built in 1876, entirely with donations from the town’s residents. Carpenters freely incorporated traditional techniques, Western architectural styles that had been newly imported after Japan was reopened to the outside world, and the designs of castles and Buddhist temples, which had been strictly controlled under the class system of the Edo Period. The early Meiji buildings that they designed and built came to as “quasi-Western architecture.” Transcending the relationship between ruled and ruler, this important example of the style expresses the curiosity of Japanese people, who approached Westernization and modernization in their own unique way.

  • The Former Kaichi School

    Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture

    Seijyu Tateishi

    1876

    Courtesy of The Former Kaichi School

  • The Former Kaichi School

    Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture

    Seijyu Tateishi

    1876

    Courtesy of The Former Kaichi School

Yamanashi Fuefukigawa Fruit Park

A Park Along a Hillside and Organic Architecture

Yamanashi Fuefukigawa Fruit Park

The Yamanashi Prefecture is surrounded by mountains on all sides, and due to the abundance of fresh clean water, boasts the highest produce of grapes, peaches, and plums in Japan. This park established along a hillside is based on the theme of fruits, with three dome-shaped buildings standing within the very center of its grounds. Arranged in a decentralized manner, these buildings each serve a different function and take on forms that are reminiscent of seeds and plants. Instead of using a bolt joining method, the steel-frame structure is assembled through means of welding on site. As a result of this technique, the buildings embody a sense of continuity and smoothness as seen in natural plants.

  • Yamanashi Fuefukigawa Fruit Park

    Yamanashi, Yamanashi Prefecture

    Kengo Kuma and Itsuko Hasegawa

    1995

    http://fuefukigawafp.co.jp/

    Photo credit: Itsuko Hasegawa

  • Yamanashi Fuefukigawa Fruit Park

    Yamanashi, Yamanashi Prefecture

    Kengo Kuma and Itsuko Hasegawa

    1995

    http://fuefukigawafp.co.jp/

    Photo credit: Itsuko Hasegawa

Keihin Industrial Area

An Industrial Base for Rediscovering the Landscape

Keihin Industrial Area

Boasting the unique scenery of an industrial zone with a high concentration of different production facilities, the Keihin Industrial Area is one of the most prominent developments of its kind in Japan. The area was completed in 1928 due to the businessman Soichiro Asano’s great foresight and half a lifetime of effort. While keeping pace with changes in the industry, including various ups and downs related to a series of wars and serious setbacks caused by pollution-related lawsuits, the development constantly worked to bolster the Japanese economy. In recent years, this type of scenery has attracted renewed interest and been imbued with new value, making industrial sites popular sightseeing spots.

  • Keihin Industrial Area

    Kawasaki and Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture

    Ota, Tokyo

    Photo credit: Ken OHYAMA

  • Keihin Industrial Area

    Kawasaki and Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture

    Ota, Tokyo

    Photo credit: Ken OHYAMA

Kanagawa Prefectural Museum of Cultural History (Former Yokohama Specie Bank)

A Base for International Finance

Kanagawa Prefectural Museum of Cultural History (Former Yokohama Specie Bank)

With a Neo-Baroque style and dome that appears too large for the overall structure, this imposing building was consciously designed to be visible from the port. It was erected in 1904 as the head offices of Yokohama Specie Bank, a pre-World War II institution that specializes in trade financing and foreign exchange. Alongside HSBC (Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation) and Chartered Bank, the bank played a key role in Asia. Now converted into a museum, both the inside and the outside of the building convey the evolution of Yokohama, a city that experienced rapid growth after Japan reopened to the outside world in the late 19th century, while playing a different role from Tokyo, the seat of the national government.

  • Kanagawa Prefectural Museum of Cultural History (Former Yokohama Specie Bank)

    Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture

    Yorinaka Tsumaki

    1904

    http://ch.kanagawa-museum.jp/

    Courtesy of Kanagawa Prefectural Museum of Cultural History

  • Kanagawa Prefectural Museum of Cultural History (Former Yokohama Specie Bank)

    Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture

    Yorinaka Tsumaki

    1904

    http://ch.kanagawa-museum.jp/

    Courtesy of Kanagawa Prefectural Museum of Cultural History

Shirohige Higashi Municipal Apartments

A Massive Fire Wall and a Base for Disaster Protection

Shirohige Higashi Municipal Apartments

The Shirohige Higashi Municipal Apartments stand on the northern tip of an area located at sea level between the Sumida River and the Arakawa Discharge Channel. The complex was designed to be a disaster-protection base. The high-rise structures function as a physical firewall, protecting a park, which also serves as an evacuation area, along the Sumida River, in the event that a large-scale fire breaks out in the surrounding area, densely concentrated with wooden houses. Equipped with firefighting mechanisms such as fire shutters, sprinklers, and water guns to protect evacuees, the apartments are a fortress-like entity, designed to protect an area with a high risk of disaster.

  • Shirohige Higashi Municipal Apartments

    Sumida, Tokyo

    1982

    Photo credit: Ken OHYAMA

  • Shirohige Higashi Municipal Apartments

    Sumida, Tokyo

    1982

    Photo credit: Ken OHYAMA

Gunma Music Center

A Hall Needed by the Local Community

Gunma Music Center

The predecessor of the local orchestra had been an amateur group of musicians composed of citizens who had gathered together in November 1945, soon after Japan’s defeat in World War II. It later developed into a professional orchestra, and by 1961 this center had been built through contributions of 100 million yen from the local citizens that was added to the city’s budget of 200 million. The building was designed by the Czech-American architect Antonin Raymond. The reason both the walls and the roof appropriated a folded plate structure is not only due to an aesthetic decision, but also as a means to reduce the amount of concrete needed in construction, or in other words, in order to reduce construction costs. The construction process was complex, however labor costs in Japan had still been inexpensive at the time.

Oya Subterranean Quarry Ruins

A Vast Underground Space

Oya Subterranean Quarry Ruins

Following a decline in the stone industry, many of the huge underground spaces that were produced through the mining of Oya stone were abandoned, falling silent and completely forgotten. The peculiar spaces that were constructed for excavation are notable for their exquisite expressions, both awesome and profound. Gradually, people have rediscovered the appeal of these strange underground spaces. While some have become stops on sightseeing tours or event venues, the search for new ways to use Oya stone locally continues.

  • Oya Subterranean Quarry Ruins

    Utsunomiya, Tochigi Prefecture

  • Oya Subterranean Quarry Ruins

    Utsunomiya, Tochigi Prefecture

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