Tokyo: Textures and Show

After 4 days in Kyoto, we headed up to Tokyo via the Shinkansen (bullet train). The first trip on the Shinkansen had me a bit woozy for a moment due to the speed, but I quickly adapted and never had an issue after that. We arrived in Kyoto and things seemed very similar at first to Kyoto. Our apartment was on the top floor of a 12-story building, giving us immediate relief knowing that we wouldn’t be hearing sirens all night. The house was smaller than the previous one and with fewer amenities, but the view was phenomenal.

One of the views from our Tokyo apartment. That angled roof center-right is the sumo stadium. We did see sumo wrestlers walking around nearby.

One of the views from our Tokyo apartment. That angled roof center-right is the sumo stadium. We did see sumo wrestlers walking around nearby.

Most of the buildings we saw in Tokyo were exterior only (no photos allowed inside), and many were along the main shopping strip. The two things that stood out to me the most were (I’m sure you can guess) the use of texture and the extravagance of it. There is definitely a show happening with design from every angle. The clothing, the buildings, the presentation of goods. Every single building was a work of art, almost as if each one was trying to outdo the next.

The above buidings were centerstage, but my favorite came along toward the end of the row, right about where people stopped noticing the extravagance and returned to the ins and outs of daily life. The Tessenkai Noh Laboratory Theater was marked only in Japanese and took some extensive searching to discover its designer. The Nippon Kyodo Kikako Architectural Design Office created this piece of beauty and oh, how I wished it was open. I so desperately wanted to see if this beauty continued to the interior!

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After seeing the design competition that seemed to take place along the luxury shopping street, the side street architecture became more appealing. Textures were thoughtful and unique in a way that was not screaming for attention. The ego left and the intention remained. I was moved by the beauty that took place in creating art within limits and with restraint. The textures and creativity remained, but it felt less aggressive and more welcoming.

I learned in Tokyo that I love extravagence… with restraint. I love art and creativity… without ego.

Beautiful expanse of board formed concrete running up the Tessenkai Noh Laboratory Theater.

Beautiful expanse of board formed concrete running up the Tessenkai Noh Laboratory Theater.

Leaving the showy main strip led us to side streets where art remained in each design, but in a less imposing manner.

We made sure to visit some builidngs from the greats, such as Tadao Ando (if you haven’t seen his work, you should look him up!). The open hours of different places are unusual in Japan, and I hate to admit that we did not check whether they would be open more than once before heading out to see a few buildings, which led to some very real frustration. One of those was the amazing 21-21 Design by Tadao Ando. I am happy that we were able to experience the exteriors, however.

There is one more building we saw in Tokyo worth mentioning… but I think that one is so incredibly special (to me, at least) that it can wait for the next post! Stay tuned for Tokyo, Part II: A Design Study