A tour of architectural masterpieces in Kanazawa -1-

Since Kanazawa has been spared damage by natural disasters and war, the city contains a mixture of architecture from different periods of time, such as modern contemporary buildings standing alongside historical remains from the Edo period, or wooden townhouses next to high-rise buildings. However, they all show originality while harmonizing with each other at the same time. Why not go on a trip to Kanazawa to discover its fascinating architecture? 

A hot topic concerning architecture in Kanazawa is the opening, on July 26th 2019, of the Yoshiro and Yoshio Taniguchi Museum of Architecture, Kanazawa. It is located in Teramachi, Kanazawa; from downtown, cross the Saigawa Bridgeover the Saigawa River and walk toward the temple district of Teramachi. 

Based on the concept of spreading the historically multi-layered architectural culture of Kanazawa both in the country and to the world, this museum bears the names of architect father Yoshiro Taniguchi (1904-1979), and his son Yoshio (1937-), who is also an architect. 

Father Yoshiro, who was born in Kanazawa, designed the Togu Gosho (Crown Prince’s Palace) in Tokyo and the Toyokan of the Tokyo National Museum, among other buildings. He played an important role in modernist architecture in Japan. Son Yoshio is known for designing both domestic and overseas art galleries and museums, including the expansion of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and the Toyota Municipal Museum of Art. 

The Museum of Architecture, Kanazawa was designed by Yoshio and built at the site of his father’s residence. The permanent exhibitions worth seeing are the real-sizereproduction of the hall and tearoom of Yushintei, which is the Japanese-style annex to the State Guest House Akasaka Palace, designed by Yoshiro

Sitting in harmony with its surrounding environment, the museum building is an attraction itself. After viewing the exhibits, why not stroll around the circular path that leads to the bank of the Saigawa River? 

There are also further examples of Yoshiro and Yoshio’s architectural works to discover in the city. 

The works of Yoshiro include the Ishikawa Prefectural Museum of Traditional Arts and Crafts (built in 1959) adjacent to Kenrokuen Garden. Its front has features reminiscent of a shoji screen, which is part of Japanese architecture. 

One of Yoshio’s famous works is the D.T. Suzuki Museum (built in 2011), which introduces the footsteps of Daisetz Suzuki, a Buddhist philosopher from Kanazawa who spread the Zen philosophy to the West. It was designed with the aim of enabling visitors to know, learn, and think about Daisetz as they move through the space, which comprises three buildings and three gardens.

Kanazawa City Tamagawa Library (built in 1978), close to Ohmicho Market, is known as an unusual piece of collaborative work by the Taniguchi father-son duo.

Kanazawa is dotted with world-renowned modern architecture, in addition to the designs by the father and son of the Taniguchi family.   

21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa is representative of such modern architecture. It was designed by Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA, an architect unit that won the Pritzker Architecture Prize, known as the Nobel Prize of the architectural industry. The museum is characterized by its circular appearance and contains exhibition rooms in various shapes.

Consistingof a glass dome and wooden gate (called Tsuzumi-mon), which symbolizes a tsuzumi hand drum, JR Kanazawa Station was named among the “World’s Most Beautiful Train Stations” in 2011 by the online edition of U.S. magazine “Travel & Leisure.”

If you go to the suburbs, you will find Kanazawa Umimirai Library, which was selected as one of the “World’s 20 Most Stunning Libraries” in 2014 by the U.S. major “Fodor’s Travel Guide.”

With its eye-catching steeple, Karakuri Memorial Museum, close to Kanazawa Port, is the work of Shozo Uchii, one of the leading architects of postwar Japanese architectural history.

Next time, we will introduce you to buildings from the Edo period that exhibit originality and charm that differ from the modern architecture.