An architectural, cultural and artistic journey through Japan

Terunobu Fujimori: Fusing architecture and nature

“Lawned roof,” La Collina Omi-Hachiman

Born in Nagano prefecture in 1946, Terunobu Fujimori has set out his own innovative approach to architecture, based on enveloping ferroconcrete buildings in materials such as stone, earth and wood. His works to date include Tanpopo House (1995), whose walls and roof are adorned with dandelions (tanpopo), and Nira House (1997), whose design incorporates growing leeks (nira) on the roof and won the Japan Grand Art Prix.

Jinchokan Moriya Historical Museum, Flying Mud Boat teahouse, Takasugi-an teahouse (Chino, Nagano prefecture)

Flying Mud Boat teahouse

Born and raised in Chino, Nagano prefecture, Fujimori made his debut with the city’s Jinchokan Moriya Historical Museum. Featuring trees thrusting up through the roof, this fantastical building uses locally-grown trees to create a motif that combines the natural beauty of the surrounding Suwa area with faith-based images from the middle ages. Nearby are Fujimori’s Flying Mud Boat teahouse, which appears to be floating in mid-air, and Takasugi-an, another teahouse that was included in Time magazine’s list of the world’s “top ten precarious buildings.”

Takasugi-an teahouse

“Lawned roof,” La Collina Omi-Hachiman (Shiga prefecture)

One of Fujimori’s more recent designs has been the main shop at La Collina Omi-Hachiman in Shiga prefecture. The building’s key features include a “lawned roof”, with grass covering the entire surface of the roof. There are pines growing on the building’s pitched roof, and the building even uses chestnut trees for pillars. La Collina Omi-Hachiman itself is the flagship store of the Taneya Group, which makes delightful desserts and confectionery for people all over the world.

Isamu Noguchi: The man who sculpted the earth

Sakura-no-Mori, Isamu Noguchi

The sculptor Isamu Noguchi was born in California, in 1904. Having travelled and had encounters with the arts all over the world, he dedicated his life to the pursuit of experimental artistic expression, creating works that spanned a whole host of different fields beyond sculpture, including gardens, furniture, lighting, ceramics, architecture and performing arts. Noguchi may have passed away in 1988, but his work has continued to delight countless people since then.

Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum (Kagawa prefecture), one of the few locations where you can really appreciate Noguchi’s view of the world

The Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum is home to around 150 pieces of sculpture, the gallery and home that Noguchi himself had rebuilt on the site, and a sculpture garden that he worked on during his later years. Noguchi left behind the museum in the hope that it would provide inspiration for other artists, researchers and art-lovers, and it still retains the same feel today as when he was alive.

Moerenuma Park (Hokkaido), an entire park designed as a single sculptural work of art

Music Shell, Isamu Noguchi

Moerenuma Park was based on the concept of creating a single sculptural work of art. Dotted with geometrically shaped facilities, the park is an eye-catching combination of nature and art, giving visitors the chance to enjoy changing expressions through the changing seasons. Regarded as Noguchi’s legacy, the park took around 23 years to complete.

99+1 webisite:Pupular arts in Japan which are picked up by JNTO

“99+1 Travelling Through Art, Design, Architecture” is a specialist website operated by JNTO, with features highlighting 99 works of art and modern architecture around Japan.

The features on the site can also be downloaded as a booklet. The “+1” in the title is based on the idea of encouraging those visiting Japan to find their own favorite spot. Once you have travelled round visiting all of the spots highlighted in the booklet, you can add your very own “+1” spot not included on the list.