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5 Iconic Buildings that are Must-sees for a Trip Based Around Renowned Japanese Architect Tadao Ando

Tadao Ando is a Japanese architect and winner of the 1995 Pritzker Prize, sometimes referred to as the "Nobel Prize of Architecture." Read on to discover 5 places where you can see his work. Seeing the photos will make you want to visit them in person!

About Tadao Ando

Tadao Ando is a unique architect known for his designs that incorporate modern materials such as concrete, glass and steel, with geometrical constructions and natural elements such as light and shadow, water and wind. He is a representative Japanese architect but is even unique in that regard. Born in wartime Osaka in 1941, Ando became a self-taught architect after trying his hand as a truck driver and pro boxer.
Without further ado, here are some of Tadao Ando's best works.

About Tadao Ando

1. Chapel on the Water (Hokkaido)

Chapel on the Water is a chapel inside Hoshino Resort Tomamu in Shimukappu, Yufutsu District, Hokkaido. You could actually have your wedding ceremony here! Many design techniques have been applied here that enable you to experience light, wind and water in this building. For example, the glass door to the chapel slides to create an open space. Furthermore, the water's edge where the crucifix stands was calculated to be 15cm deep so that even if just a gentle breeze blows, ripples will be created on the surface of the water. You can quietly experience nature in this spiritual environment.
By the way, the Chapel on the Water has even been used for Taiwanese dramas, and for one of Taiwanese singer Fish Leong's music videos. This place makes for some outstanding photo shoots, so bring your camera and take some of your own!

1. Chapel on the Water (Hokkaido)

Nakatomamu, Shimukappu-mura, Yufutsu-gun, Hokkaido

2. 21_21 Design Sight (Tokyo)

There are a lot of Tadao Ando's works in Tokyo, but 21_21 Design Sight that's built inside Tokyo Midtown in Roppongi is really worth seeing. The theme here is architecture as the face of Japan. This is a concentration of Japan's architectural techniques, such as the longest multilayered glass in Japan (11.4 m) and the colossal roof (54 x 450 sq. m) which was constructed from a single sheet of turned down steel.
But it's not just the exterior that's interesting. The fact that actually most of the building is underground may surprise you when you see it!
Moreover, design exhibitions and workshops are held at the building, so this place is highly recommended for those who want to be immersed in art.

2. 21_21 Design Sight (Tokyo)

Midtown Garden, Tokyo Midtown, 9-7-6 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo

3. TIME’S (Kyoto)

TIME'S is a commercial facility along the Takasegawa River in Kyoto that was constructed in 1984. Despite being constructed 30 odd years ago, the building doesn't feel old at all. And yet, it's designed in such a way that it fits in with the many remaining traditional buildings of Kyoto. The terrace almost touches the surface of the Takasegawa River, and there is also a space where you can casually look out over the small stream. In the spring you can also enjoy this place in collaboration with the cherry blossoms along the river.

3. TIME’S (Kyoto)

92 Nakajimacho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

4. Chikatsu Asuka Museum (Osaka)

The Chikatsu Asuka Museum in Osaka Prefecture is a museum relating to humanities in an area with many archaeological sites such as kofun (burial mounds). As you may expect this building was even constructed in the image of a kofun. The towering concrete building known as the Yomi Tower is impressive, but the inside of the tower is actually hollow. The museum building is constructed inside the monumental staircase that leads to the tower.
Tadao Ando himself has called this building his signature building, and has stated about this architectural piece that "this is a Heisei era kofun dedicated to the Japanese sensibility of praising nature." (Heisei era: 1989 - 2019)

4. Chikatsu Asuka Museum (Osaka)

299 Oaza Higashiyama, Kanan-cho, Minamikawachi-gun, Osaka

5. Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art (Hyogo)

The ocean comes right up to the front door of this art museum that opened in Kobe in 2002. The inside of the building is encircled with passageways, so you can enjoy not only the display pieces, but the architecture of the building itself.
The city of Kobe is surrounded by sea to the south and mountains to the north, and you can see the inspiration of these sea and mountain landscapes in the design of this art museum. Some of the highlights are the circular terrace outside the 1st floor gallery and the three sea, mountain and wind decks outside the 3rd and 4th floor gallery. On the sea deck, which is a viewing platform designed to protrude out over the ocean, there is also a large green apple sculpture created by Tadao Ando.

5. Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art (Hyogo)

1-1-1 Wakinohama Kaigan-dori, Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo

So what did you think? There are many more of Tadao Ando's architectural works throughout Japan aside from these 5. If you're going to a part of Japan where one of his works are, be sure to go check it out!

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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