Finally October has come, and with it, the official reopening of the Tokyo Station building! Many a years have been spent waiting for this and the result is quite exactly what we imagined when they put up the scaffolding in 2003: a gorgeous and exact replication of the original as it was in 1914 when architect Tatsuno Kingo finished the original building. Tatsuno was the first native Japanese architect to create this fully western style grand buildings and his first teacher was the legendary Briton Josiah Conder, and it really shows in this building, which is very similar to Conder’s masterpiece, the Mitsubishi Ichigokan.
The inside of the station has also been cleaned up, with a couple of beautiful new entrance halls with a fantastic new dome ceiling. The dome roofs are quite extraordinary as well. In 1914 Japan’s most famous slate tile manufacturer created 200 000, 30x18cm tiles for the original roof of Tokyo Station, so in 2003 they received an order to clean up the original tiles and also to manufacture replacements for the damaged ones using the original molds. The firm was based just next to Ishinomaki harbor, in Miyagi prefecture, and on the very same day as the new tiles had been individually wrapped and packaged, waiting to be sent out over the weekend, the tsunami struck and destroyed most of the city of Ishinomaki. The tiles were scattered far and wide over the rubble of the city. The surviving company employees immediately after the tsunami receded set out to search for the tiles and during the next couple of week, together with volunteer townspeople managed to find and clean about 45 000 before the remaining tiles were destroyed when heavy machinery started clearing the wreckage of the city. These tiles were sent to the Tokyo Station site and the reconstruction of the roofs could continue. You can see my blog posts from Ishinomaki here, with photos taken three weeks after the tsunami.
The outside of the station has received the new lights that are so popular in Tokyo right now. It works wonderfully well, of course, and large crowds gather in front of the station every dusk to take in Tokyo’s latest tourist attraction. If you pass through Tokyo you simply must take a walk around the Marunouchi side of the station.
This is the strangely shaped Ao Building in Tokyo’s Aoyama district. I have blogged about this building before, but in the daytime. It looks equally stunning at night. A must visit for fans of modern architecture visiting Tokyo, and you also get pretty nice views from the garden on the backside, but I’m not sure you are allowed to take photos there!
I took this snapshot of the gorgeous Cocoon Tower in the heart of Shinjuku West, 西新宿. This building is home to 10 000 students in three universities during the daytime but at night it serves as the perfect waiting spot for the long distance coaches going from Tokyo to cities all over the country. Is there a better view from a bus stop in Japan? I think not. Here is a high resolution image if you would like to use it for your computer desktop.
I’m an old building lover and one of my favorite architects of the modern era is Josiah Condor (1852-1920), who designed several famous buildings in and around Tokyo, not least the well known Tokyo Station building. One of his less famous works, perhaps because of the untypical coloration, is the lovely city mansion at Kyufurukawa Gardens (旧古河庭園) built in 1917, in Tokyo’s northern Kita ward. I visited for the first time in the summer last year, even though I spent much of my first year in Tokyo right here in Kita ward and Ouji. If you’re into gardens, flowers and architecture, this is a great place to spend a sunny afternoon. Entrance is 150 yen and is a good final stop on day trip to the Ouji station area.