Shinjuku from the Takashimaya department store rooftop

Some wonderful views from the rooftop of the Takashimaya Shinjuku 新宿タカシマヤ department store (map). (1) Looking west towards the Park Hyatt and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building 東京都庁: (2) Shinjuku-sanchome to the northeast: (3) Looking south towards the NTT Docomo Yoyogi Building NTTドコモ代々木ビル: (4) And looking southeast towards Tokyo Tower: For old photos from the rooftops…

Class dismissed: the ghost schools of Yokoze and Hanno, Saitama

I’ve never been a Japanese school-child, nor have I ever attended school in the early 20th century, yet I feel nostalgic for old-fashioned Japanese schoolhouses. This may have started while watching movies like The Rickshaw Man 無法松の一生 (1958) or Carmen Comes Home カルメン故郷に帰る (1951). Scenes from: The Rickshaw Man and Carmen Comes Home My love was cemented when I…

Japan Open-Air Folk House Museum (Kawasaki City)

There’s a wonderful museum in Kawasaki not too far from central Tokyo: Japan Open-Air Folk House Museum / 川崎市立日本民家園 (Kawasaki Municipal Nihon Minka-en) The museum has over 20 historic houses that illustrate traditional Japanese folk architecture. The houses were moved from other parts of Japan to this park in the hills of western Kawasaki. This brochure shows all of the structures,…

Planting rice on the highway: Ohashi Green Junction

This is what happens when you combine a building and a highway: Or this: But it doesn’t have to be this way. Consider the Gate Tower Building ゲートタワービル in Osaka 大阪 , also known as The Beehive「ビーハイブ」/「蜂の巣」 (Google maps). The Gate Tower building is an efficient use of dense urban space, and presumably was the result of a great deal of…

Saitama Sky Forest and Keyaki Hiroba Beer Festival けやきひろばプラザ

Keyaki Hiroba Plaza けやきひろばプラザ This is the Japan I had been expecting: mega-structures; a de-humanizing city of the future. The Saitama Super Arena さいたまスーパーアリーナ and the Saitama Shintoshin Station さいたま新都心駅 are not built for the human scale. Yet between these concrete and steel monsters, hundreds of trees grow, arranged in a large grid, providing physical…

A beer grows in Toranomon: Mori Trust Garden TORA4

[Update February 12, 2014] I understand that the innovative temporary-use facility known as “Mori Trust Garden TORA4” closed as of the end of January 2014, presumably for construction of a permanent structure in its place. In memoriam, here are a few more photos of this wonderful urban oasis, taken from the site’s “salad days” last…