My Etsy Shop

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Rediscovery Good Japan ~Vol.4

Japan is well known as a country where small tiny islands gathered up with intensely dense population. The size of entire country is just 1/25th of the United States, but its population density is 10 times more.
Naturally, it is easy to imagine Japanese land space comes to very limited for the people to live in. 
In the major cities, houses stand literally an inch apart from one another and the size can be as small as 36 square meters.
Regardless, their houses still function as home to them and they dwell within.

Throughout Japan, you can find interesting architecture from the past and contemporary time period and it creates sense of community that seems to be timeless. 

Tadao Ando, a Japanese architect, always focuses on the nature of how people live.
 He is no doubt one of the greatest architects in today's architecture field.
He was born in Osaka, Japan in 1941 and became an architect by learning everything himself without having official education.
Ando was a professional boxer before becoming an architect but he visited Teikoku Hotel in Tokyo that was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and intensely fell into architecture world. 
Becoming an architect in Japan is no difference from becoming a doctor for its world's most strict building code because of constant earthquakes and natural disasters.

His famous use of concrete for his architecture now has spread all over the world.
Osaka, where the architect is from, though still has many of his work.
One of the most memorable work of his I've visited so far was his Church of the Light in Ibaraki, Osaka.

It is a small charch.
Tadao Ando. Church of the Light, Ibaraki, Osaka, Japan, Plan. 1989
Plan Image:

Left: Facing altar and the wall of the cross cut  Right: The side wall 
I visited in the evening of Christmas, which was open for public so that I, even non-Christian self, could come in. The church, which was built within a very tight budget that Ando initially proposed that the building may not even have a roof, was rather small that not all the people in the church could sit, but the concrete structure that was surrounding those simple wooden benches surprisingly felt warm and welcoming.
And it also felt stoic at the same time.
The building has a wall with cross cut out that brings the natural light.
Since it was at night, I could not see the light coming through the slits but it was still powerful and impressive bold idea of Ando.
Left: Wall with cross cut out exterior view     Right: Side of the church exterior view

And this is how it is supposed to look during the daytime.

 Image from 

Ando's Church of the Light successfully brings the sense of serenity and spirituality to the space with the solid cold concrete walls and the light coming through the cross cut.

 Ando's talent is unquestionable but I also think his charm is his personality.
I happened to be in one of his lectures at an university in Osaka one time.
He surely was charismatic and passionate.
I had read his books and heard about how intense he was so I expected him to be very serious and more like a stiff man like his concrete architecture.
Turned out, he was a true Osaka-jin (people from Osaka.)
He was funny, witty and obviously a very experienced speaker.
One time, he goes "You know, the Suntory museum I built in Nanko (near Osaka-kou, bay area) is sadly closed now...because you guys didn't go!"

Pictures of Suntory Museum-Very sadly, it was closed in 2010..because we didn't go..

He was also tough at the same time too, just as he was saying how useless people who are born post 1975 because they are given everything and spoiled.
He was brutally honest and very critical about today's Japanese people.  
He explained how important it is to interact with people in the community and many of his projects are intended to help bring the communities for the people.
That notion of togetherness is so of the heart in human.
He believes in "human power" even though all the technological developments made our lives much more convenient and changed the way how people interact with each other.
His ideas of human core is something that I always find in his work.
I really admire Ando and his work and am secretly proud that he is from my city, Osaka.

Next week is the last series of Rediscover Good Japan.

Thanks for reading. 
And Happy Halloween!



 Tadao Ando. Church of the Light, Ibaraki, Osaka, Japan, Plan. 1989 
Plan Image:

写真左:外観からの十字 写真右:サイドの壁の切り込み


 Image from






No comments:

Post a Comment