Architecture in Central Tokyo

31 May 2013
Author: Stan Li, Architecture

Today marks the 8th day since I came to Tokyo. Japan is one of the countries that I hade wanted to come to the most; it has so many fascinating things, including its culture, attitudes, architecture, city planning, etc. My current understanding of Japan is that though it has been inspired by many countries, it still developed its own way of life. I really feel that Tokyo is a miracle after I came here; it is really amazing that they can recover this fast from the war etc. and become one of the most developed countries in the world.

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Mt. Fuji. Stan Li, 31 May 2013.

Our plan for today was to go to Ginza in the morning and then to Marunouchi in the afternoon, and in the evening catching the train to Kyoto for a two day trip. Ginza is one of the most famous shopping districts in the world and is known as a very upscale part of Tokyo. The funny thing about Ginza is both luxury stores and non-luxury stores are mixed together. Ginza Wako is the heart of the Ginza area and is famous for its watches, jewelry, handbags, as well as luxurious foreign goods. In Ginza I saw some buildings that shocked with how their structures function and how they are presented to the world. For example, the Swatch Group building designed by the famous architect Shingeru Ban was an extremely bold move, but he met with nothing but success. The front door and the back door can lift up when the store is open to the public and make the two streets into one. The store can be a public transition area during business hours, and the interior becomes exterior. AMAZING!!! And Toyo Ito has provided another example of the best building performance in that area. Toyo Ito is one of the most famous architects in Japan and he just won the Pritzker award in 2013. We saw the Minimoto Ginza 2 buildingl the way he designed the façade of the building is absolutely amazing, as he use the façade to also work as structure. Furthermore, the way he combined interior and exterior is incredible. It made me realize more about the façade’s relationship with the interior.

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Minimoto Ginza 2. Stan Li, 31 May 2013.

After lunch, we met Yoshi Mizoguchi, a senior employee of Obayashi who is extremely knowledgeable. Mizoguchi-san gave us a tour of the Marunouchi area of Tokyo as well as the Tokyo International Forum (90% of the area is owned by Mitsubishi). Mitsubishi established itself in the area after the Meiji restoration given how close the area is to the Imperial Palace. After that, we went to an emergency underground refuge intended to shelter people during earthquakes and other catastrophes. The facility is a really enormous and right now the Japanese government is trying to build more of these structures in Tokyo.

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Tokyo Station.  Stan Li, 31 May 2013.

And finally we were at the Tokyo train station. And the Meiji Restoration, the government tried to construct “Western style” buildings so they invited a German architect to design the station, but the government didn’t use his design because it doesn’t look Western enough. So they hired some other architect to do it, and the Meiji government combined both of the station designs into one. It was really great to see Tokyo station, but then we were soon off to Kyoto on the Shinkansen (bullet train) to continue our journey.

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