Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Cocoon Tower in Shinjuku

The Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower in Shinjuku is an educational complex designed by Tange associates, the company of the late Japanese architect Kenzo Tange. Completed in 2008, it is the second tallest educational building in the world.

The cocoon like structure, hence the name, has an elegant design with white aluminum and dark blue glass. The tower is an eye magnet on the Shinjuku skyline.

The tower was awarded the Skyscraper of the year in 2008 by Emporis. The tower has a visual similarity with another Emporis prizewinner, the Gherkin in London.

The building houses three educational institutions, and the interiors are amazing, unfortunately, I was not allowed to take photos inside.

View Cocoon Tower in a larger map

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Tokyo National Museum

The Tokyo National Museum is the largest and oldest museum in Japan, established in 1872, with the first exhibition held at the Yushima Seido. In 1882 the museum moved to its current location at the Ueno Park in Taito Ward.

There are five exhibition buildings, a memorial hall, a research center, gardens and teahouses at the museum premises. The garden is open to the public only during spring and autumn.

The Honkan building exhibits Highlights of Japanese art, from the Jiomo period to the edo period (1603-1868). The original building, designed by the British architect Josiah Conder, was severely damaged during the 1923 Kanto earthquake. The current building was designed by the Japanese architect Jin Watanabe, and it is designated an important Cultural property of Japan 2001.

The Toyokan building is closed due to earthquake-proofing work, it will reopen in 2013.

The Hyokan building, built in honor of the wedding of the Taisho crown prince, is closed and there is no set date for reopening, the building has been designated an important cultural property.

The Heiseikan building, was built to commemorate the crown prince’s wedding, it is used primarily for temporary exhibitions.

The gallery of horyuji treasures is a beautiful building designed by Yoshio Taniguchi, housing the treasures of the houryu ji temple in Nara, Japan, one of the oldest wooden buildings in the world.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Count Nogi’s former house at Nogizaka

The Count Nogi’s former house in Nogizaka was built in 1902 for the Count Maresuke Nogi, an eminent general of the Imperial Japanese Army. Located in Minato ku, on gaien Higashi Street, a short walk from Tokyo Midtown, it has been designated an important Cultural asset by the Minato-ku.

Count Nogi, son of a samurai, after a distinguished military career, became the head of Peers school, and became the mentor and big influence for the future emperor Showa. In 1992 he and his wife committed suicide at the Nogizaka house, after the emperor Meiji death, in accordance to the samurai code. After his death, Nogi became a symbol of loyalty and sacrifice.

The statue outside the house recreates the story of general Nogi and the boy selling tujiuranai (fortune cookies). In 1891 Nogi, then a General, visited Kanazawa and run by chance into Seisaburo Imakoshi, an 8 year boy selling tujiuranai, to help support his family, after hearing the boy story, General Nogi commented “Admirable for a small boy, don’t forget this motivation and become a respectable adult” and gave the boy a large amount of money. The boy never forgot the General kindness; continued working hard and in 1965, it was named a living national treasure as a gold leaf Artisan.

The house modeled after a house of the French army that Nogi saw whilst studying in Germany. Built of wood of austere design, with a semi underground concrete structure skillfully using the slope.

The stables built next to the house provide a glimpse of the count great love of horses.

View ex-house of Count Nogi in a larger map