Archive for the ‘HOGI’Category

Day 9 – Nagoya Station

Nagoya Station (名古屋駅, Nagoya-eki?) is a train station in Nakamura-ku, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, Japan. It is the world’s largest train station by floor area (446,000 m², 4,800,000 ft²)[1] and houses the headquarters of the Central Japan Railway Company (JR Central). Much of this space is located in the “JR Central Towers” atop the station, as well as in underground concourses. The current station complex was completed on December 20, 1999. An average of 1,140,000 people used it per day in 2005, making it the 6th busiest station in Japan.

The station is adjacent to Meitetsu Nagoya Station, the terminal of the Nagoya Railroad, and Kintetsu Nagoya Station, the terminal of the Kintetsu Nagoya Line.

Via Wikipedia.

A little over halfway from Tokyo to Kyoto, Nagoya is a bustling financial center with one of the largest rail stations in the country.  With the Japanese, is is profound how integrated the rail station is with high end retail, shopping and grocery stores.  Unlike in the US, where you might have a concourse of shops and restaurants catering to the travelers, the Japanese model does that as well as creating a center within the community at large.  Some of that is by extension the station working as a subway hub for communters, but it isn’t just a grab-and-go economy.  Some of the best restaurants in the city are in the rail stations.  They themselves are destinations for the population.


10 2009

Day 8 – Inter-Junction City

I first heard about this development in a book published in the late 90’s entitled Shaking the Foundations: Japanese Architects in Dialogue in which the architect, Riken Yamamoto, was interviewed about it.  The goal was to create a development of connected functions, combining shopping areas, business facilities and housing.  In that interview, Yamamoto was asked if the project, at that time fairly new, was a success.  He responded “Not yet! It takes time to assess if a project is working.  But I really hope that it will.” (pg 30).  I though this then an excellent opportunity to both research a small local rail in the Ryokuentoshi station, and a mixed-use project specifically designed to interface with it.  I wasn’t disappointed.

The project is very indicative of the concrete and metal designs that proliferated in the mid 90’s, especially among Japanese architects.  While I really like the aesthetic, here it was taken to an extreme that even left me feeling a bit cold.  That said, I don’t think that is the architect’s fault.  All through Tokyo, one of the most fascinating aspects of the urban fabric is the level of craft peopl give to their limited personal spaces.  This is classically evident in the sculpted Japanese garden, designed to feel bigger than it is, but in so many instances, porches, balconies, driveways, entries, there were a multitude of examples of people adding greenery, seating or other enhancements to craft their space.  In that vein, I see the amazing outdoor spaces the Inter-Junction city creates as a perfect blank canvas for this native tendency.  Unfortunately, they remain bare in most instances.  There are a few examples of balconies dressed up with greenery, or shop fronts engaging the street, but for the most part it is bare and cold.  I’m not sure why this is.

The fun part of the development is it’s verticality.  Terraces, small courtyards, stairs, walkways, it connects with internal and external spaces ant a multitude of levels.  There is a hierarchy of privacies, from public, to semi-public, to semi-private, to private that gives clear definition to the spac, and how the user relates to it.

I intend to contact the archtitect as I continue my research to get his impressions of the project.


10 2009

Intermission – Food in Japan

I thought I’d take a moment away from all the architecture and rail stations to look at some of the food I ate in Japan.  As you can probably tell, I ate my way through.  Research purposes, of course.

Burger ‘n Fries: You have to understand, I’d been eating Japanese food for the better part of ten days, and while good, I was ready to eat something beyond familiar, hence, a burger and fries. I didn’t want to be the American at McDonalds (although Mickie D’s was packed) so I tried this Japanese favorite. Naturally, the meal included a fried chicken leg, a hamburger about the size of a single White Castle burger, a small fry and a small Coke. All for the budget price of about $11 American. The chicken leg was the best part. I’m not sure what the burger was seasoned with but it was distinctly Asian. I suppose they might say the say things about the hibachi steak house in my neighborhood.

Chocolate Ice Cream Bar: Convenience stores, as in any major city, are very popular. 7 Eleven and Circle K were notable, along with several other Japanese varieties. I enjoyed checking them out for the bedazzling array of foods. This little guy was somethign between a dove bar and a chocolate bar. Very tasty.

Wafer Ice Cream Bar: This thing was pretty amazing. You know those little wafer crackers that come in either chocolate, strawberry or vanilla flavors? Imagine the vanilla version encasing ice cream. Yeah…exactly. Why we don’t have this, I’ve no idea. Sure, we have the ice cream cookie sandwich, but that’s nothing compared to this.

Train Station Sushi: In all the food Mr. Miyama took us to, we never hit a sushi place. I felt I would be remiss if I didn’t have sushi in Japan. I found this little place in the bowels of the Kyoto train station. It was actually really good…as if i’m an expert. I thought the rice was a little loose, but the fish was excellent.

Japanese Junk Food: The potato chips were really good. Sort of a Japanese red pepper flavored potato chip. Kinda hot, but really tasty. As for the bag with the smiley chick, instead of cheese flavoring, cross Cheetos with BBQ flavor and you’re there. I ate these while I watched Denver play the Patriots at 5:00am. Good football food, not so good for breakfast.

Japanese Vending Machine Fare: The Japanese are a vending machine culture.  Every street corner, rail platform and back alley has a well lit vending machine happy and ready to dispense, sugar, carbonation and caffeine.  With the cider, Imagine Woodchuck, but without the alcohol. Yeah, that’s what I thought, What’s the point? The CC Lemon – 70 Lemons worth of Vitamin C in every bottle. Who could refuse that? Carbonated lemonade. Nothing impressive. Move along.

Western Style Patries: The Japanese love quality.  This was the most amazing doughnut I’ve ever had. Glazed with a hazelnut filling from Dean & Deluca in the Tokyo station. I was an hour early for my train, figured I’d splurge. I wasn’t disappointed.

Kolaches, kolaches, kolaches: So the Japanese have totally embraced the sausage roll. These were in every patisserie and bakery at every rail station. They came in a host of different shapes, sizes, breads and all with a variety of ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise sauces. I felt it my obligation to try these everywhere I went.

Yakitori: How bad could pork, grilled and braised with a sweet sauce be? Um…not bad at all. Fraking incredible actually. They do know how to brew a good pilsner. I tried the dark beer, and the malt liquor…stick with the pilsner.  I found these two in a park in Kyoto.

Mini Canned Coffee: So these little guys, akin to the Starbucks Doubleshot, are everywhere. Apparently BOSS is a huge brand in Japan. Tommy Lee Jones is plastered all over their current ad campaign. You can get them either cold or warm (they sit in heated racks at convenience stores or even hto out of vending machines). Either way they taste terrible. As for the “black” flavor, where the other tasted like bad day old coffee, this tasted like really dark bad day old coffee.


10 2009

Day 8 – Yokohama, Ryukentoshi and Aodobai Stations

Yokohama Station

“Yokohama Station (横浜駅, yokohama-eki?) is a main interchange station located in Nishi-ku, Yokohama, Japan. It is the busiest station in Kanagawa Prefecture and the 5th busiest in Japan as of 2004, serving 2.05 million passengers daily.”1

Yokohama itself is a very dense mento area full of shopping and heavily populated.  Yokohama Station is a huge transfer point and being located south of Tokyo it was a central spring point for me to access both the Aodobai and Ryukentoshi Stations.  It hit it fairly early in the morning, just a little after rush hour, and activity had largely died down.  I really hadn’t intended to research this station, but at time allowed, and it was en route to my subsequent destinations, I explored the station and surrounding area.

Ryukentoshi Station

The Ryukentoshi Station is a rail station located in Yokohama where the architect Riken Yamamoto engaged in his Inter-Junction City project. For Yamamoto, the urban response was to connect various functions with individual buildings each manifesting their own urbanity. It is the linking together of the individual urbanities that create a communal interface.  I wanted to research the station partly because of the mixed-use project, partly to see a smalled station that was more of the scale that the average Japanese might use in their daily lives.  It was also at a density that was far closer to what one might encounted in the States.

Aobodai Station

This Aobodai station is one of the busiest in the Denen Toshi line, owned by the Tokyu Corporation. The station is flanked by a compact, mixed-use urban center featuring a shoping plaza anchored by a Tokyu department store, a large supermarket, mid-rise offi ces, a hotel, banks, post offi ces, and recreational offerings including sport clubs.  A higher density than the Ryukentoshi Station (located on a JR rail line), Aobodai is a complete development by the Tokyu Corporation who owns the line, must of the retail, and even many of the stores.


10 2009

Day 7 – Harajuku District

“Harajuku (原宿 “meadow lodging”) Harajuku.ogg listen (help·info) is the common name for the area around Harajuku Station on the Yamanote Line in the Shibuya ward of Tokyo, Japan.

Every Sunday, young people dressed in a variety of styles including gothic lolita, visual kei, and decora, as well as cosplayers spend the day in Harajuku socializing. The fashion styles of these youths rarely conform to one particular style and are usually a mesh of many. Most young people gather on Jingu Bridge, which is a pedestrian bridge that connects Harajuku to the neighboring Meiji Shrine area. [1]

Harajuku is also a fashion capital of the world renowned for unique street fashion.[2] Harajuku street style is promoted in Japanese and international publications such as Kera, Tune, Gothic & Lolita Bible and Fruits. Many prominent designers and fashion ideas have sprung from Harajuku and incorporated themselves into other fashions throughout the world.”1

I was there on a Thursday night, so it wasn’t as wild as over the weekend, but the entire area was packed with kids and hip fashion shops, some that catered directly to the constume wearers.  The area was crazy but a lot of fun.  I would love to have had this kind of vibrancy near me when I was in high school…


10 2009

Day 7 – Yoyogi National Gymnasium

“Yoyogi National Gymnasium (国立代々木競技場, Kokuritsu Yoyogi Kyōgi-jō?) is an arena in Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, Japan which is famous for its suspension roof design. It was designed by Kenzo Tange and built between 1961 and 1964 to house swimming and diving events in the 1964 Summer Olympics. The design inspired Frei Otto’s arena designs for the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. The arena holds 13,291 people (9,079 stand seats, 4,124 arena seats and 88 “royal box” seats) and is now primarily used for ice hockey and basketball.”1

Visiting Kenzo Tange’s stadium is one of those pilgimages that every architect delights in.  We all learned about this complex in our architectural history courses and, as with most great pieces of architecture, photography can’t do it justice.  The massive yet elegant structure dominates the site beautifully with all the grace I had expected.  Unfortunately the grounds were under construction, so I couldn’t get all around the building, but it was excellent nonetheless.


10 2009

Day 7 – Meiji Shrine

“Meiji Shrine (明治神宮, Meiji Jingū?), located in Shibuya, Tokyo, is the Shinto shrine that is dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken.[1] When Emperor Meiji died in 1912 and Empress Shōken in 1914, the Japanese people wished to pay their respects to the two influential Japanese figures. It was for this reason that Meiji Shrine was constructed and their souls enshrined on November 1, 1920.”1

I found this to be one of the nicest traditional sites I visited.  Entering the site you walk through the huge gate and into a cathedral of old growth trees framing a long procession to the shrine.  It rather cleansed my mind of the surrounding dense urbanity and preparet my minset for something interospective and esoteric.  The temple itself was modest, but a lovely oasis within the city.


10 2009

Day 7 – Tokyo & Shibuya Stations

Tokyo Station

Tokyo Station

“Tokyo Station (東京駅, Tōkyō-eki?) is a train station located in the Marunouchi business district of Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan, near the Imperial Palace grounds and the Ginza commercial district.

It is the main intercity rail terminal in Tokyo, the busiest station in Japan in terms of number of trains per day (over 3,000), and the eighth-busiest in Japan in terms of passenger throughput.[citation needed] It is the starting point and terminus for most of Japan’s Shinkansen (high-speed rail lines), and is served by many local and regional commuter lines of Japan Railways, as well as the Tokyo Metro network.1

Shibuya Station

Shibuya Station

Shibuya Station (渋谷駅, Shibuya-eki?) is a train station located in Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan. With 2.4 million passengers on an average weekday in 2004, it is the fourth-busiest commuter rail station in Japan (after Shinjuku , Ikebukuro, and Ōsaka / Umeda) handling a large amount of commuter traffic between the center city and suburbs to the south and west.2

These stations are two of the eight main rail stations that make up the “ring” of rail stations encicling Tokyo (a map of which you can view here).  The thrust of my research is to understand the nature of such rail stations and see if and lessons can be applied to rail and TOD development in the United States.  Rail stations in Japan are much more of a community focus than in the states, with shopping, dining and other functions that cater both to the traveler and the local resident.  There are huge shopping malls, grocery stores, gift shops, cafe’s, theaters, etc. etc. all linked to the rail station developments.  I won’t go into too much detail here as this is something I’m going to continue my analysis of, but here are some relevant photos.


10 2009

Day 6 – Akihabara “Electric Town”

“Akihabara (秋葉原?) (“Field of Autumn Leaves”), also known as Akihabara Electric Town (秋葉原電気街, Akihabara Denki Gai?), is an area of Tokyo, Japan. It is located less than five minutes by rail from Tokyo Station. Its name is frequently shortened to Akiba (アキバ) in Japan. While there is an official locality named Akihabara nearby, part of Taitō-ku, the area known to most people as Akihabara (including the railway station of the same name) is actually Soto-Kanda, a part of Chiyoda-ku.

Akihabara is a major shopping area for electronic, computer, anime, and otaku goods, including new and used items.”1

With the proliferation of internet shopping, this area isn’t as intense as it once was, but it is still a mecca for all thins electronics.  Computers, cell phones, games, game consoles, tvs, anything is aviable as the smallest shop to huge multi-floor retail complexes.  Its a fun visit.  I was able to pick up a micro SD card for my phone, but not a special set of earphones…and it’s even a Sony…hmmm.

The main hub of this area is the Akihabara train station.  A huge transportation node, commuters are constantly moving through the area.  While there I was able to sneak down a side street to see a building I’d seen while in school, Peter Eisenman’s Koizumi Lighting Building.  It’s a deconstrucitivise design of rotated grids upon grids.  I was a little dissapointed that they’s added a big sweeping glass enclosure at the base, and toned down the paint scheme (it was some glorious mid 90s decon pinks, laveders and greys).


10 2009

Day 6 – Suntory Museum of Art

Located just behind the Tokyo Midtown project, this soft little museum exhibition space by Todao Ando is a gentle bit of elegance amidst the chaos of the surrounding urbanity.  Consisting of a single exhibition space and a cafe, there is a gracefull place between the curve of the roof and the form of the concrete and the infill of the windows.  A central opening slices through the building providing cover and access to both pieces of the program, as well as delivering you into the garden on the opposite side.


10 2009