Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Architecture that co-exists with nature / Architect : Kengo Kuma

   Yusuhara, known as the “Kumo-no-Ue-no-Machi” (lit. “Town above the clouds”), has four buildings designed by world famous architect Kengo Kuma (as of March 2017). The buildings are characteristic in that they are built lavishly with wood from Yusuhara, and they harmonize well with the surrounding nature.

   The reason why Kengo Kuma came to design buildings in Yusuhara lies in Yusuhara-za, the only wooden theater house in Kochi. It is said that he was impressed by the efforts to preserve Yusuhara-za at the time, and he got interested in wooden architecture. He received a request from the town of Yusuhara, and starting with “Kumo-no-Ue-no-Hotel”, he built “Yusuhara Town Hall”, “Machinoeki Yusuhara”, and “Yusuhara Wooden Bridge Museum”. Also, Yusuhara Town Library and Welfare Facility are in the process of being built now.
Kumo-no-Ue-no-Hotel (Location: Tarogawa 3799-3)
   The rounded roof is constructed in the image of an airplane’s wing, and the design uses the concept of fusing together glass, wood, and water. The restaurant interior is made from wood as well, and it creates a comforting atmosphere. There is a Canadian staff member who can handle your requests in English as well as Japanese.

Makino Museum of Plants & People / Architect: Hiroshi Naito

Under the c-shaped overhang which stretches out gracefully
How Hiroshi Naito came to design the building
   This museum is dedicated to Dr. Tomitaro Makino, the plant scientist from Kochi who is often referred to as the “Father of Japanese Botany”. Located in Godaisan, Kochi City, the museum was built within the Makino Botanical Garden, and it is comprised of a main building and an exhibition hall.

Kochi Station / Architect: Hiroshi Naito

Kochi Station (South exit)
   JR Kochi station looks like an ordinary train station at first glance, but I was surprised to hear that the famous architect Hiroshi Naito designed it. The first thing you see when getting off from the streetcar / tram at Kochi station is the south side of the train station. It is made from v-shaped steel frames. The station is sometimes referred to as “whale dome” because of the way it looks like whale bones.

Kochi Life Q&A : Ohanami

   For Japanese people, Ohanami (lit. flower viewing) is associated with cherry blossoms. Let’s enjoy the Japanese culture of Ohanami this spring!
Q: When did the culture of Ohanami start?
A: The origin of Ohanami is said to have started in the Nara period (710-794 A.D.) when the imperial family went to view the plum blossom which had been introduced from China. In the Heian period (794-1185 A.D.) cherry blossoms started to become more popular than plum blossoms, and many poems about cherry blossoms remain from this era. It seems that as time passed, this custom spread to the warriors and the common people.