TOD’s Department Store
Located on Omotesando Boulevard in the bustling, cosmopolitan heart of Tokyo, this building for the Italian leather goods label TOD’s has an organic look that emulates the branches of the trees in front of it. The striking structure is made of concrete slabs that diagonally intersect with each other and move up the façade. From the inside, the views through the inlaid frameless glass create a dynamic vantage point to see the busy city below.
Address: 5-1-15 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo; Web site:
Mode-Gakuen Spiral Towers
Located in the busy main street of Nagoya city is the illustrious Mode-Gakuen Spiral Towers by Nikken Sekkei. The building, which houses schools for fashion design, computer programming, and medical support, brings an educational building to a whole new, twisting level. Both gorgeous and pragmatic, the structure not only curves into a breathtaking spiral tower, it is also designed to withstand even the most severe earthquakes.
Address: 4-27-1 Meieki, Nakamura-ku, Nagoya-shi, Aichi; Web site:
Kirishima Concert Hall
This striking hall was designed by famed Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki along with an acoustics expert to create a music space to please both the eyes and the ears. Though the hall is virtually absent of decor, leaflike panels rise up to the roof, forming the overall shape of a ship’s hull, creating interesting geometry and solid acoustics. The hall accommodates a host of classical musicians, as well as the annual .
Address: 3311-29 Takachiho, Makizono-machi, Aira-gun, Kagoshima-ken 899-6603, Japan; Web site:
UNIQLO Shinjuku West Exit Store
The popular Japanese clothing company UNIQLO recently opened this arty new mega store in Shinjuku, Tokyo, a shopping district near one of the world’s busiest railway terminals. Spanning an impressive 20,000 square feet, the UNIQLO Shinjuku West Exit Store beckons shoppers with expansive glass pillars that adorn the entrance, catching eyes with modern, flashy posters and displays.
Address: 1-1-1 Nishi, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo; Web site:
This three-story mini-tower sits on just 215 square feet of space amidst a forest of trees in Karuizawa, a popular tourist area in Japan. Designed by husband-and-wife team Makoto Takei and Chie Nabeshima, or , the aptly titled Ring House is wrapped in bands of glass and wood, giving the owners an uninterrupted, 360-degree view of the enchanting forest. The house is the first of 100 plots being designed in the same fashion, to create a unique residential community.
Address: Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture
Za Koenji Public Theatre
Designed by the renowned Japanese architect Toyo Ito and open as of this past spring, the Za Koenji Public Theatre is a geometric black expanse that catches the eye in the midst of a typical urban neighborhood. Circular windows scattered across the façade give the look of a starry night to this music, dance, drama, and storytelling venue in the Suginami area of Tokyo.
Address: 2-1-2 Koenji-Kita, Suginami-ku, Tokyo; Web site:
Prada Aoyama Flagship Store
The country’s flagship store certainly lives up to the Prada name. Located in the fashionable Aoyama district in Tokyo, the diamond-shaped yet softly curved structure designed by German architecture team Herzog and de Meuron is a geometric wonder in six stories of glass crystal. Talk about a fashion statement.
Address: 5-2-6 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo; Web site:
Sanyo Solar Ark and Energy Museum
A shimmering example of green energy combined with the best in design, the Solar Ark by Sanyo boasts an impressive 5,000+ solar panels across its curved and elongated structure that seems to virtually float off the ground. In addition to annually creating 500,000 kWh of energy (that’s enough to power 150 households for a year), the ark’s free energy museum brings global environmental issues and photovoltaic science to a wider audience.
Address: 180 Ohmori Anpachi-cho, Gifu; Web site:
Neil Barrett Flagship Store
In designing the stunning Neil Barrett flagship store in Tokyo, Zaha Hadid used sculptural forms to reflect the fashion design brand’s minimalist appeal. Curving, undulating sculptures create a circular walkway throughout the store, rather than dividing the space into fixed rooms or sections. In white matte, sculptures pop against a glossy black floor.
Address: 3-17-6 Minami Aoyama, Minalo-ku, Tokyo; Web site:
Located in the Mikimoto Ginza 2 building, a building designed for the Mikimoto jewelry store by Toyo Ito, Dazzle wows like diamonds with glittering lights, leopard-spot windows, and a stunning glass wine cellar located in the middle of the main dining room. With global cuisine such as tomato-based lobster risotto and New Zealand lamb chops, the space combines both epicurean and design delights.
Address: 2-4-12 Ginza, Tokyo Web site:
The National Art Center
Encompassing an awe-inspiring 516,000 square feet across five stories, the National Art Centre in Tokyo is the country’s largest exhibition facility and interestingly has no permanent collection – it instead serves as a venue for various art exhibitions. With a large atrium enclosed in an undulating glass wall, its exterior is perhaps as captivating as the art inside.
Address: 7-22-2 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo; Web site:
Art Tower Mito
Created to celebrate the city of Mito’s centennial celebration, Art Tower Mito includes a contemporary art gallery, restaurant, shop, concert hall, and this namesake structure. Designed by acclaimed Japanese architect Arata Isozaki, the shimmering titanium-clad tower serves as a structure symbolic of the city’s revitalization.
Address: 1-6-8 Goken-cho, Mito-shi, Ibaraki; Web site:
Naha Harbor Diner
Though it might not be housed in a real tree, this diner, perched atop a life-size rendition of a banyan tree, wows with its quirky architecture. Stop inside the diner for a taste of farm-fresh veggies, pork and chicken dishes, and favorites from the shore, all made from local ingredients.
Address: Naha Port, Okinawa; Web site:
Airspace Tokyo, Kitamoagome
Designed by San Francisco-based architect Thom Faulders, this multi-family dwelling features a remarkable façade accented with two layers of modern mesh. The weblike construction made of an aluminum and plastic composite, has an organic shape of vegetation and an impressively modern feeling.
Address: Kitamagome Ota-ku district, Tokyo; Web site: