One Saturday in July 2018, I visited the Mori Art Museum to see Japan in Architecture: Genealogies of its Transformation. Both the museum, and the exhibition were brilliant, and the views over Tokyo a nice bonus!
About the Museum
The Mori Art Gallery is located in Roppongi. There are several embassies there and the area is an international hub, with lots of foreign food restaurants. Since 2003 this museum has occupied the top floor of the Mori building. It’s so big that you sometimes forget you’re on the 53rd floor of a skyscraper!
Because the exhibition we saw was special entry and cost ¥1800, we were able to go up to the Sky Deck to see the view for free (it normally costs an extra ¥500). The museum is conveniently located close to Roppongi Station.
Japan in Architecture: Genealogies of its Transformation focused on architecture in Japan, its history and influences, and how it in turn influenced architecture as a whole. The exhibition looked at the work of Japanese architects like Kenzō Tange and Kazuyo Seijima across nine sections, giving a comprehensive overview of Japanese architecture.
The exhibition opened with a section about wood in Japanese architecture. We were greeted by an incredible wooden wall called Kigumi Infinity, created by Kitagawa Atsushi. The wall was enormous, stretching floor to ceiling. Watching a video of its construction revealed it was made of long pieces of wood which interlock. Looking at it was like seeing a mental puzzle in three dimensions.
The exhibition was well laid out, with this nice rest area to relax and look through books on architecture half way through. There was even a reconstructed Japanese tea house you could crawl inside of.
An audio visual exhibit showed us a variety of layouts and their measurements. Each of the nine sections focused on a different topic of Japanese architecture. The sections had themes including Living with Nature and Linked Spaces.
There were quotes stencilled on the walls, adding an extra dimension to each section.
The exhibition was honestly very good indeed. Even as someone who doesn’t know anything about architecture, I could still enjoy the precise architectural drawings, and the uses of space and light in the architectural creations. There were several intricate maquettes and scale models. The exhibition left me in awe of how amazing human ingenuity can be.
Japan in Architecture: Genealogies of its Transformation runs until Monday September 17th 2018 (cost: ¥1800) at the Mori Museum in Roppongi. If you’re in Tokyo, go see it!