Written by Zoria April
Tokyo Architecture Tours - Discover The Story Behind Unique Landmarks!
Would you like to learn more about Tokyo's modern and contemporary architecture and be one of the few who goes inside historically important buildings? Let us introduce to you the Tokyo Architecture Tours organized by Showcase Tokyo.
Tokyo is a marvelous metropolis with stunning architectural landmarks. Many of the buildings in the city are featured in architecture textbooks or have been awarded international architecture prizes. Some of them even belong to the world heritage.
Considering the size of this city, it's difficult to go see all of these buildings, not to mention that some of them being residential buildings, it is hard to even take a peek inside.
Tokyo Architecture Walking Tours, a series of tours held by Showcase, a travel agency located in Shibuya, can help you go visit these places. The Showcase guides are all national guide license holders and all of them are architecture enthusiasts.
The Showcase Tokyo tour guides team
Showcase designed the tours in cooperation with researchers from the University of Tokyo Department of Architecture, Yokohama National University Y-GSA students, and the Japan Institute of Architects (JIA).
Tokyo Architectural Landmarks You Can Visit
One of the representatives of the Metabolism style in architecture is the Nakagin Capsule Tower in Ginza, designed by architect Kisho Kurokawa. He is also the mastermind behind the Japanese capsule hotels.
This building looks like it was stacked in a video game. While it is unique and fun to visit, it is a residential building and you can only go inside if you're invited by an apartment owner. Luckily, Showcase Tokyo have a collaboration with Mr. Maeda, the representative of the Nakagin Capsule Tower Preservation and Restoration Project. He guides the Nakagin tour in Japanese and the Showcase members ensure the English interpretation. Showcase Tokyo has the only official tour available in English for this building.
During the tour, you can take a look at the interior of the capsule rooms managed by the Nakagin Capsule Tower Preservation and Restoration Project. The rooms are partially renovated but keep the original built-in facilities.
The Capsule Tower Building is facing the risk of demolition, as it is showing signs of dilapidation. Through this tour, the guests can learn about the activities performed to save the Nakagin Capsule Tower. In fact, part of the tour participation fee is used to support the Nakagin Capsule Tower Preservation and Restoration Project.
Other than the Nakagin Capsule Tower Building tour, Showcase also holds tours in the areas of Omotesando, Harajuku, Ginza, Ueno Park, as well as the Edo Tokyo Open-air Architectural Museum. They also provide custom tours to meet the guests’ particular interests and study tours for students from overseas.
Therefore, by all means, feel free to ask Showcase to arrange for you a tour of a building in Tokyo you've always wanted to visit.
Why Are These Buildings Significant?
According to the Showcase Tokyo tour guides, there are two main reasons why visitors to Japan should take a close look at Tokyo's architectural landmarks.
First of all, Tokyo has truly remarkable contemporary architecture. Because the usable space is limited, the city is filled with unique designs and conceptual architecture. The purpose of this type of architecture is to make the most out of the space available. This often results in very creative solutions.
Moreover, almost all stunning buildings have interesting stories. It is truly a pity to pass them by without knowing their background.
Sunny Hills. Photo courtesy of Showcase Tokyo
Secondly, unfortunately, in Japan buildings that are over 40 years old are often regarded as too old and useless.
One of the reasons why there are few old buildings in the city is the frequency of earthquakes, which makes it dangerous to live in old structures. In addition, the Japanese prefer new buildings.
Because of this, many great buildings that used to represent the modernist trend in Japanese architecture have been easily demolished, although they could have been improved through seismic reinforcement and good maintenance. It's sad to let them be destroyed without doing anything.
Showcase Tokyo would like to be part of the movement that emphasizes the value of Japan's great architectural achievements. These tours are their contribution to stopping the demolition of precious buildings.
Having all this in mind, don’t put off your visit and seize the day!
Learn About Tokyo's Architecture by Taking the Showcase Tours
National Art Center in Roppongi
You get to truly see a city only when you know some of its secrets and stories. Any other type of visit would be no different than looking at other people’s photographs of it.
This is one of the reasons why taking a tour held by professional guides is so amazing. You can actually learn about the places you're visiting. This helps you form a connection with those places.
Showcase can point out and provide information on famous buildings that might be easy to miss otherwise. They also reveal the fun facts and stories behind them. Even though it is an “architectural tour”, it is not only about the buildings. They are aiming for their tour to be enjoyable for everyone. Even if you are not particularly interested in architecture, you will have a great time and get to know a precious side of Tokyo.
Photo courtesy of Showcase
Tour Prices and Contact Details
Showcase runs tours of the Nakagin Capsule Tower every Thursday from 12:00. The duration of a tour is 50 minutes. Booking will close when the number of participants reaches five people.
The tour fee is 5000 yen/person. For a group of five, a preferred time can be arranged upon request as a private tour. A group tour costs 25,000 yen.
This tour is supported by the Nakagin Capsule Tower Preservation and Restoration Project.
For custom tours and study tours, the price depends on the number of the participants, the area, and the duration of the tour. The tours are all private tours.
For architecture tour in other areas of Tokyo, such as Omotesando, Harajuku, Ueno Park and other, the prices for a 3-hour tour are as follows: 12,000 yen for 1 guest, 18,000 yen for 2 guests (9,000 yen/person), 24,000 yen for 3 guests (8,000 yen/person), 30,000 yen for 4 guests (7,500 yen/person), 35,000 yen for 5 guests (7,000 yen/person).