Enoura Observatory (Odawara), On the side of the reception building

Modern and Contemporary Architecture 

Japanese Creativity Unleashed

The word "architecture" (kenchiku 建築) in its Western meaning was coined in Japan at the end of the 19th century, during the Meiji Era (1868 – 1912), when the country reopened to the world.

Modern Japanese Architecture

The end of the Sakoku period allowed the introduction of new materials and construction styles, thanks to the influence of foreign experts invited to participate in the country’s modernization. Consequently, the main construction material until then, wood, was replaced in many buildings by:

  • Brick,
  • Stone, and,
  • Concrete.

New landscapes emerged, mainly in the archipelago’s largest cities, with a range of eclectic styles, sometimes blending Japanese and Western elements. Before WWII, the Modern Movement was well received in Japan.

Contemporary Japanese Architecture

Post-war Japan is characterized by reconstruction and a massive use of concrete. It is also the blooming period of Japanese architects who studied abroad, were internationally acknowledged and developed the Japanese architectural thought, such as Kenzo Tange, Tadao Ando or Kengo Kuma.

Contemporary Japanese architecture tended to be quite monumental during the Economic miracle period (mid 1950s – 1970s) but in the early 21th century, it seems to be returning to more natural materials and to the human scale, while rediscovering the principles of the traditional architecture. Even so, construction of huge towers is still a must in urban design, especially in Tokyo.

This so dynamic contemporary architecture is an interesting theme to plan a visit of the archipelago: from Tokyo the ever-changing large capital to the islands of the Seto Inland Sea and their art exhibitions in forsaken rural settings, the tiny houses sprouting here and there in the urban residential areas to monuments harmoniously blending in the natural landscape of Hokkaido.

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