Since moving to Tokyo and getting into photography I started to become a lot more interested in architecture.
My main reason for this is that good architecture creates a great backdrop for street photography.
In Tokyo, there is an abundance of great architecture.
And what’s amazing about Tokyo is the continual building and demolition of the city’s buildings, which seems to happen effortlessly, while everyday life continues as normal.
Take the renovation of Shibuya station for example.
I’m constantly in awe at how all the metro lines continue to work and work punctually with the enormous renovation work that’s been taking place all around the station.
‘Life through bars’ – Laurence Bouchard (this was shot on the grounds of the Tokyo Metropolitan building which was built by Kenzo Tange).
Another thing about Tokyo as a city is the divide between day and night.
It’s almost as if the city completely transforms in the evening.
I’ve heard some people say that they think Tokyo is an ugly city – maybe because of all the overhead telephone poles and wires.
Of course the city is no ‘Rome’ but I think it has its own distinct charm and hidden away are some beautiful backstreets which take you back to a retro atmosphere from the Showa period.
Nombei yokocho (which translates as Drunkard’s Alley) in Shibuya is such a street.
‘Come what may’ – Laurence Bouchard (this was shot outside Kenzo Tange’s St. Mary’s Cathedral in Tokyo).
One Japanese architect I’d like to highlight in this blog is Kenzō Tange who won the Pritzker prize for architecture in 1987.
Tange can be regarded as one of the most significant architects of the twentieth century and combined Japanese styles with modernism.
The first building I’d like to talk about is The Yoyogi National Stadium which is famous for its’s suspension roof design.
The stadium was completed in October 1964 to house swimming and diving events in time for the 1964 summer Olympics.
The 1964 Olympics were scheduled for mid-October to avoid the city’s midsummer heat and humidity and the September typhoon season.
Apparently the previous 1960 Olympics in Rome, held in late August, experienced very hot weather.
Considering the fact that Tokyo is most probably even hotter now than in 1964 due to a significant increase in high-rise buildings it seems strange that the 2020 Olympic Games are scheduled for August.
Anyhow, enough Olympic digression.
Below is a photo of a mother and son playing on the grounds of Yoyogi stadium with the stadium as a backdrop.
‘Generation gap’ – Laurence Bouchard (this was shot outside Kenzo Tange’s Yoyogi Stadium in Tokyo).
The next building I’m a big fan of is Kenzo Tange’s St.Mary’s Cathedral in Tokyo – just across the road from the Chinzanso Four Season hotel.
The cathedral was completed in 1964.
It’s interior is equally immense but I don’t any photos to include here – a good reason for you to pay a visit and see for yourself!
‘Faith’ – Laurence Bouchard (this was shot outside Kenzo Tange’s St. Mary’s Cathedral in Tokyo).
The last building I would like to write about is the Tokyo Metropolitan building (or ‘Tocho’ as Tokyoites refer to it) in Shinjuku.
The building was designed to resemble a computer chip, while also evoking the look of a Gothic cathedral.
Apparently the inspiration for Tocho came from the Notra Dame in Paris.
Unfortunately I don’t have any photos that focus on the main building.
My interest has been in the lines and columns of the building.
Tocho was completed in December 1990 and cost a whopping \157 billion of public money.
It’s completion coincided with the end of the bubble era.
Because of the timing of it’s completion, there’s an urban myth that the building cast a kind of bad feng shui over the capital and, when finally completed, the bubble economy burst.
I’ll leave you to make what you like of that myth.
‘Time’ – Laurence Bouchard (this was shot outside Kenzo Tange’s Tokyo Metropolitan building in Tokyo).