The following itinerary lists a range of museums, galleries, buildings and design projects which we plan to visit. Many are accessible to the public, but some require special permission, which may only be confirmed close to the tour’s departure in 2017. The daily activities described in this itinerary may change or be rotated and/or modified in order to accommodate alterations in museum opening hours and privately hosted visits. The tour includes breakfast daily, lunches and evening meals as indicated in the itinerary where: B=breakfast, L=lunch, and D=evening meal.
Tokyo - 9 nights
Day 1: Monday 18 September, Arrive Tokyo
- Welcome Evening Meal at ‘Kanetanaka Sou’ Restaurant
Please make your own way to the Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel. There will be an orientation meeting at the hotel followed by a welcome group meal at ‘Kanetanaka Sou’ restaurant, a stylish new restaurant located within the hotel tower and lauded for its contemporary take on traditional Japanese cuisine. (Overnight Tokyo) D
Day 2: Tuesday 19 September, Tokyo, Daikanyama District
We spend the morning with award-winning Italo-Australian architect Riccardo Tossani, principal of Tokyo based Riccardo Tossani Architecture, which integrates architecture with interior design and urban design. Internationally recognised, Tossani has been active in urban revitalisation of Japanese rural communities and has co-authored a book on the government’s response and recovery after the 2011 tsunami in Tohoku.
We visit Tosanni’s studio, an example of his residential projects and his Roppongi Hills flagship store of Giorgio Armani, an attempt to capture the sublime spirit of Japanese architecture and landscape design.
The residential project we shall visit is Tossani’s R-Residence, featured in the February 2014 edition of Indesign magazine. It constitutes a series of interconnected glass volumes on the side of a hill, engaging with sky, open-space views and the sun. The building’s striking transparency is strategically modulated by use of a combination of elements including brise soleils, light and wind-sensing solar blinds, bronze-tinted reflective double-glazing with low energy transmission, and internal roll-screens and curtains.
After lunch we visit the Mori Art Gallery in the new Tokyo district of Roppongi Hills, occupying the top five floors of Kohn Pedersen Fox’s 54-storey Mori Tower. Gluckman Mayner Architects designed its Atrium Lobby, Art Museum, and the Tokyo City View, offering a panorama of the city. Mori’s ambitious solo shows and thematic exhibitions range from the eccentric to the cerebral. In 2003, its inaugural retrospective of Yayoi Kusama presented a dizzying labyrinth of polka-dot-infused installations, while last summer’s survey of the Metabolist architects – one of Japan’s most critically acclaimed shows of the year – celebrated the bold ideas that shaped 1960s Tokyo. After touring the galleries, we shall head to the observation deck on the floor below for unrivalled 360-degree views of the city. (Overnight Tokyo) B
Day 3: Wednesday 20 September, Tokyo
This morning we visit Torafu Architects and Taiji Fujimori’s Atelier. Architects Koichi Suzuno and Shinya Kamuro have produced architectural design, interior design for shops, exhibition space design, product design, spatial installations and films. Major works include Template in Claska, Nike 1 Love, Boolean, House in Kohoku and ‘airvase’. Their Light Loom (Canon Milano Salone 2011) was awarded the Grand Prize of the Elita Design Award. They have published the ‘airvase book’ and Torafu Architects 2004-2011 Idea + Process, and a picture book titled Torafu’s Small City Planning. We also visit Taiji Fujimori Atelier that specialises in furniture design and collaborates with various architects in interior/product design projects and works.
At midday we take public transport to Yoyogi Village. The company Wonderwall was commissioned to work on the design direction for this vast premise and interior design for the restaurant, Code Kurkku, where we shall eat lunch before exploring this fascinating area. Takeshi Kobayashi, a musician and record industry entrepreneur who produces Mr. Children, Japan’s second most popular rock band, oversaw the development of this ambitious project, which provides an eco-conscious alternative to the average Tokyo mall. Kobayashi invited Shinichi Osawa to co-produce this easily accessible retreat from city life. You enter through a glass gate, which heightens contrast between the vibrant city that is still visible outside and this oasis of calm. It has a vivacious yet relaxing garden created in collaboration with plant hunter, landscape designer Seijun Nishihata. (Overnight Tokyo) BL
Day 4: Thursday 21 September, Tokyo, Ueno Park
- Former Kusuo Yasuda Residence
- International Library of Children’s Literature Tokyo by Tadao Ando (2002) (exterior)
- Gallery of Horyuji Treasures by Yoshio Taniguchi (1999) (exterior)
- Architecture tour of The National Museum of Western Art – Le Corbusier with Kunio Maekawa, Junzo Sakakura and Takamasa Yoshizaka 1959 (extension Kunio Maekawa 1979)
- Asahi Beer Hall by Philippe Starck (1989)
- Asakusa Culture and the Tourist Center by Kengo Kuma & Associates (2012)
We begin today with a visit to the former Kuso Yasuda Residence (1919), a stunning early modern interpretation of a traditional Japanese house. This elegant wooden house looks out through large windows upon on a lovely garden.
We next view the exterior of Tadeo Ando’s International Library of Children’s Literature, a renovation and expansion of the former Imperial Library built in 1906. Ando’s subtle interventions create a dynamic juxtaposition between the old and the new. They are simple but elegant, comprising a glass volume that pierces the earlier Renaissance-style street façade at a slight angle to form an entry. This glass volume then continues along a courtyard to form a full height glass façade as well as a lounge space between it and the existing façade. It is flanked on each end by a concrete volume containing staircases.
Nearby we also view the exterior of the Gallery of Horyuji Treasures designed by Yoshio Taniguchi in 1999. The character of this refined, minimalist gallery building is subtly defined through a spatial play of transparency, opacity and reflection and the relationship between vertical and horizontal planes, solid and void, and interior and exterior.
We next visit Le Corbusier’s masterpiece, the National Museum of Western Art, Japan’s premier Western art museum. The museum is square in plan with the main body of its galleries raised on piles to first floor level; its layout is similar to Le Corbusier’s Sanskar Kendra museum in Ahmedabad, India, which was designed at the same time. A glazed pyramidal skylight intersected with reinforced concrete beams and a column lights Corbusier’s double-storey space. Visitors ascend to the paintings gallery via a promenade ramp that affords excellent views of Rodin’s sculptures.
After lunchtime at leisure we take public transport to Asakusa to view the Asahi Beer Hall and Asakusa Culture and Tourism Center. We also view (from a distance) the Tokyo Skytree, a broadcasting, restaurant, and observation tower completed in 2012, the tallest tower in the world. The Asahi Beer Hall is one of the buildings of the Asahi Breweries headquarters designed by Philippe Starck (1989). It is shaped like a beer glass to complement the neighboring golden beer mug-shaped building housing the Asahi Breweries offices.
We end today with a visit to Kengo Kuma & Associates’ Asakusa Culture and Tourism Centre, an 8-storey building designed as a tourist information centre, a conference centre, and a multi-purpose hall and exhibition space. Its layered plan resembles a stack of small traditional houses with sloping roofs and vertical wooden louvres that filter natural light. The sloping 6th floor holds a theatre and a terrace creates a breezy space with excellent views into the city. The ‘dead’ spaces between the sloping roofs of each storey and the floor above are used for storing equipment. (Overnight Tokyo) B
Day 5: Friday 22 September, Tokyo: Bunkyo, Yanaka District, Asakusa
We spend the day with award-winning designer Keiji Ashizawa. Ashizawa spent the first ten years of his career working as both an architect and steel fabricator. Early experience gained in understanding metals has influenced his simple, refined designs that maximize the potential of the materials he uses, applied to projects of various scales, from furniture and lighting to architecture and exhibition design. In 2011, he was presented with a ‘Special Award’ by the Japan Institute of Design for his inception of Ishinomaki Laboratory, a DIY furniture workshop established in Ishinomaki city after it was devastated by the tsunami. (Overnight Tokyo) B
Day 6: Saturday 23 September, Tokyo
- St Mary’s Cathedral
- Walking tour of Ginza’s contemporary architecture including the Maison Hermès by Renzo Piano
- Dover Street Market (DSM)
- Nakagin Capsule Tower
- Group Dinner at ‘Dazzle’ Restaurant in Ginza
This morning we visit St Mary’s Cathedral. The original 19th century structure was destroyed during World War Two, and the building we see today was completed in 1964. Designed by architect Kenzo Tange, this fascinating soaring building features eight hyperbolic parabolas that open upwards to form a cross of light, which in turn continue vertically along the length of the four facades.
We then travel by subway to Ginza, one of Tokyo’s centres for contemporary architecture and home to the city’s Dover Street Market. We shall view important buildings such as Mikimoto 2 by Toyo Ito, Renzo Piano’s Maison Hermès, Nikken Sekkei’s extraordinary cylindrical San-Ai Dream Centre and Shigeru Ban’s Nicholas Hayak Centre. Piano’s corporate headquarters and retail store for Hermès Japan includes offices, workshops, retail and exhibition spaces, multimedia areas and a roof garden. This elegant, glowing, rectangular building, carefully crafted from specially designed glass blocks, giving the impression of a precious object, was inspired by traditional Japanese lanterns. The thick glass façade blurs activity within during the day and at night the building glows from the light within whilst the thick glass insulates the interior from the noisy, bustling Ginza streets. Hermès products are displayed in clear glass boxes at street level.
Kawakubo Rei of ‘Comme des Garçons’ envisioned Ginza’s seven-storied Dover Street Market Department store. Each floor has a different theme, linked by the recurring motif of Kyoto sculptor Kohei Nawa‘s Pulse, a series of whirling white pillars providing an escalator screen on every floor. Elsewhere, Vancouver firm Patkau Architects’ sculptural steel skating shelters sit in the centre of a circular, skating-rink-like space while the surreal ‘Wasp Factory’, an installation by the production designer Michael Howells, dominates the top floor. Japanese labels such as A Bathing Ape, Kolor, Mastermind, Sacai and Visvim occupy the building.
Nearby we visit Kisho Kurokawa’s Nakagin Capsule Tower (1972), an amazing mixed-use residential and office tower, a rare extant example of Japanese Metabolism. Although it has fallen somewhat into disrepair it is important as the world’s first example of capsule architecture built for permanent, practical use. This evening we enjoy a special dinner at ‘Dazzle’ Restaurant in the Ginza district. (Overnight Tokyo) BD
Please note: A visit to the Museum of Contemporary Art was originally scheduled for this day, but the museum is currently closed for renovation.
Day 7: Sunday 24 September, Tokyo’s Midtown: Roppongi in Minato
- Nezu Museum
- 21-21 Design Sight by Tadao Ando
- National Art Centre Tokyo
Our day begins with a visit to the Nezu Museum, showing traditional Japanese and Asian works of art once owned by Kaichiro Nezu, a railroad magnate and politician. Architect Kengo Kuma designed an arched roof that rises two floors and extends roughly half a block through the Minami Aoyama neighborhood. At any one time the vast space houses some of the collection’s 7,000 works of calligraphy, paintings, sculptures, bronzes, and lacquer ware. The purpose of our visit however, is to explore the building’s surroundings – one of Tokyo’s finest gardens with 5 acres of ponds, rolling paths, waterfalls, and teahouses.
We next visit Tadeo Ando’s and fashion designer Issey Miyake’s amazing 21-21 Design Sight (2007) museum. Ando has said of it: “The idea was to create not only a museum that shows exhibits, but also a place for researching the potentiality of design as an element that enriches our daily life, a place that fosters the public’s interest in design by arousing in them different sights and perspectives on how we can view the world and the objects surrounding us”. The building includes two galleries and a café run by chef and restaurateur Takamasa Uetake. This split-level concrete structure has a hand-sanded steel roof inspired by Issey Miyake’s A-POC ‘A Piece of Cloth’ concept as well as 14-metre long glass panels.
Our final visit today is the National Art Centre Tokyo. This unusual space, unlike Japan’s other national art museums, is an ’empty museum’, without a permanent collection or curators. Instead it accommodates temporary exhibitions curated by other institutions. This gleaming structure was designed by Kisho Kurokawa and its focus is on light. The building is entered though a vast atrium that is enclosed within undulating glass curtain wall with exterior glass louvers, while skylights and translucent spaces admit daylight into the building’s seven galleries. (Overnight Tokyo) B
Day 8: Monday 25 September, Tokyo: Omotesando
- Christian Dior by Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA 2004
- Maison Koichiro Kimura
- Tod’s Omotesando Building by Toyo Ito (2004)
- Yamamoto Yohji Flagship Store
- Lunch at a local restaurant
- Marc Jacob Flagship Store
- Prado Aoyama by Herzog & de Meuron
We spend a full day in Omotesando, a tree-lined avenue located in Tokyo’s Shibuya and Minato wards. It is famous for its excellent contemporary architecture including SANAA’s Dior Building, Toyo Ito’s Tod’s Omotesando Building and the Hertzog & de Meuron Prada Building. It also has a number of designer flagship stores.
The Dior building of Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa (partners at SANAA) has a distinct multi-layered, translucent façade of clear glass covering a second inner skin of translucent acrylic giving the gentlest of hints at what is inside. The outer skin is perforated with thousands of large and small holes that subtly reveal the illuminated inner skin, which is also patterned. In combination, they replicate the woven pattern of Thonet’s famous chair that Christian Dior adapted as his signature motif.
‘Looking more like a set from a Lady Gaga video than a shop’, Koichiro Kimura’s new Tokyo HQ is as much a futuristic exhibition space for his sensational furniture and tableware designs as it is a shop. The former punk turned designer and lacquer-ware master has transformed a two–storey 1950s house into a white palace fronted by a large gold pyramid. A hot pink back wall provides the only splash of colour in the ground–floor shop whilst upstairs, the walls and ceilings of the showroom are covered with 4,000 white lacquered pyramids. Kimura’s family has run a lacquer-ware business for more than 400 years and he seamlessly combines ancestral techniques with unique contemporary forms.
Toyo Ito’s slender, seven-storey L-shaped Tod’s Omotesando Building contains the Italian footwear retailer’s offices and a boutique fronting chic Omotesando Avenue. Ito’s explores ideas of surface, the building’s dramatic structure mimicking the shapes of the tall elm trees that stretch along the avenue reinterpreting them in its façade as a series of crisscrossing geometric forms, a smooth blend of concrete and glass. Nearby we visit Yamamoto Yohji’s stark and industrial flagship store. In the 1980s his bold and often romantic designs contributed crucially to Tokyo’s high reputation in world fashion.
Marc Jacobs’ new flagship store combines New York glamour with a Japanese lantern-inspired building designed by Stephan Jaklitsch, the American architect who has designed Marc Jacobs stores worldwide. It won an award of excellence from the American Institute of Architects 2010. A completely transparent street-level ‘void’ houses the designer’s highly desirable bags, perfumes and ‘Marc Jacobs Aoyama’ T-shirts. One level up, the ‘rock’ zone is decorated with striated terracotta tiles. Above, the ‘lantern’ lights up to create a striking beacon at night. A selection of Jacobs’ stylish menswear is available in the basement. The interiors throughout are a sophisticated blend of warm wood, modern metal, sleek shelves and huge mirrors. It holds its own against its architecturally famous neighbours, Herzog & de Meuron’s Prada building and Jun Mitsui’s ‘The Jewels of Aoyama’ Wallpaper (Overnight Tokyo) BL
Day 9: Tuesday 26 September, Tokyo
- Architecture tour of Jiyu Gakuen Girls’ School, Myonichikan designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, Toshima
- Shotoku Glass Co. Ltd
- Edo Kiriko Glass Factory
- Hiroko Takahashi Atelier
- Farewell Dinner at a local restaurant
This morning we travel by public transport to the Toshima district where we shall take a guided tour of the beautiful Jiyu Gakuen Girls’ School, Myonichikan, designed by renowned American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The Myonichikan consists of four buildings whose extended horizontal lines blend with the landscape, like Wright’s famous ‘Prairie House’ designs. Arato Endo designed one of the four buildings, the auditorium. Myonichikan was designated an Important Cultural Property in May 1997 for its historic and artistic values.
Following some time at leisure for lunch we take the train across to Sumida for a visit to Shotoku Glass Co. which has recently been producing works to designs by Jasper Morrison. Shotoku has developed the ‘Usuhari glass’ series based on the knowledge they originally gained from making the glass for electric light bulbs. In 2003, Shotoku Glass won the ‘Best Product Award’ in the ‘Accent on Design’ category at the New York Gift Fair. In 2005 they introduced the ‘e-glass’ series. These glasses are made from recycled fluorescent light tubes and received the top award in the First Annual Traditional Arts and Crafts Challenge Awards (Japan). In 2006, this series was recognized as an environmentally friendly product and became the first glass product in Japan to be given the Eco Mark. We also will visit the Edo Kiriko Glass Factory which is renowned for its beautiful cut glass and will provide an interesting comparison to the Shotoku Glass. We finish the day with a visit to the Hiroko Takahashi Atelier, where the age-old tradition of kimono creation is combined with cutting edge textile design. This evening we enjoy a farewell evening meal at a local restaurant. (Overnight Tokyo) BD
Day 10: Wednesday 27 September, Depart Tokyo
- Morning at leisure
- Departure transfer for participants travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flight
After a morning at leisure participants taking the ‘designated’ ASA flight for Melbourne will transfer to Tokyo Airport. If you are not taking this flight you should find your own way to the airport, or consult ASA for transfer assistance. B