Oct 13, 2017

chasing Tadao Ando, Japan's super architect

Ever seen Kyoto from this angle? 

I took this photo at a place millions of people traverse through day in and day out. And if you've even been to Kyoto, you've probably been in this building. 

Its Kyoto Station. And this gorgeous mega train station was designed by Hiroshi Hara.

Like most people, on my previous trips to Kyoto, I would rush in and out of this station. 

Occasionally, I would glance up at the massive light-filled ceiling. On my last trip, I changed all that and spent hours walking through this station and exploring its many unique spaces. 

From there, I went on a quest to chase Tadao Ando landmarks!

Kyoto Station is huge. And everywhere you turn, the architecture is equally impressive. The seemingly disparate sections of the small city are connected on the 15th floor with a series of uber modern glass hallways.

Kyoto Station has two floors with a dozen or so restaurants each. The 9th floor is all ramen, and the 10th floor has many other restaurant choices. And if that's not enough food, Kyoto Station is also connected to the lovely Isetan department store and they also have an entire floor filled with restaurants. Never leave Kyoto Station hungry!

Not far from Kyoto Station, is one of Tadao Ando's most famous works: The Church of Light. This tiny Christian church sits in an upscale neighborhood halfway between Kyoto and Osaka. 

Its utter simplicity is the crux of its beauty.

I visited the Church, but sadly, visitors are no longer allowed inside. The fame of the architecture has overwhelmed the small staff and in the past, many sightseers were rude and intrusive. Tourists! 

A few people are allowed in on Saturday and Sunday with advance reservations. Next time!

Naoshima Island, also known as Japan's Art Island, is mecca for Tadao Ando chasers. I went there on a hot and steamy September day. Totally loved it!

The famous Benessee House and Museum, the Chichu Art Museum, and the Lee Ufan Museum are are all built by Ando. Plus, there is also the Ando Museum on the island.

Chichu translates as underground --- and this structure is partially underground and the intent what to blend in with the natural landscape. Stunning. Breathtaking. These words seem small compared to this structure's outsized beauty. 

Inside, the space is sparse and minimalist. The art is good, but limited. There is one room with Monet's water lily paintings. Another James Turrell exhibit. And then there is this room!

As I was walked up the path and was about to enter the museum, I stopped to take a photo of the outside of the museum and I was stopped by a staff member. I was slightly dumbfounded to learn that no photos are allowed of the building itself! I understand rules to protect the art, but the building? 

I feel the rule to not allow photos of the building exterior for visitors who paid a hefty ticket price to enter is crazy. That said, the Chichu Art Museum is well worth a visit.

Next is the Benessee House and museum. This is perhaps one of my new favorite art museums. The building is endlessly beautiful, super modern, and surprising.

I needed more time to visit this island. Next time I will plan farther in advance and spend the night.

I'm thinking of going on an 'all architecture' trip to Japan and truly chasing Tadao Ando. Here are the sights on my wishlist. Anyone want to join me?


  1. Thanks for sharing these wonderful places to visit.

    1. Hi Ann. Thanks for your comments... there is so much to see and do in Japan. The possibilities are endless! Just need more time....
      Take care, Teresa

  2. Thank you for sharing your explorations. I stumbled upon your blog when I was looking for your books and I am so glad I did. (My order arrived today and I am over the moon in love with both books.) I look forward to reading more. Thanks again.

    1. Hi Jeannie! Thanks for finding my blog. Glad you found something of interest... and more importantly, thanks a million for buying my books!
      Take care, Teresa