Centuries-old culture perfectly blends with cutting-edge technology in Japan’s capital, Tokyo. And, as one of the world’s most popular cities, Tokyo has plenty to boast about. Just look at its skyline alone! In this guide, we look at some of Tokyo’s most iconic buildings:
Iconic buildings in Tokyo
Asakusa Culture and Tourism Center
The Asakusa Culture and Tourism Center was designed by Kengo Kuma & Associates and built in 2012. The impressive structure houses a tourist information centre, conference room, multi-purpose hall and exhibition space. Alongside an information desk, free guided tours and currency exchange, the 8 storey building features a covered rooftop observation deck which offers the best views of Sensoji Temple’s Kaminarimon, another of Tokyo’s iconic structures. Exhibitions and cultural events are regularly held here.
Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower
Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower is a 50 storey educational facility located in the Nishi-Shinjuku district of Tokyo. To build its new location, Mode Gakuen made an open call for local architects to send in their design pitches. They picked Tange Associates (out of some 150 candidates) who chose a cocoon shape to symbolise the nurturing of students inside, the impressive structure was completed in 2008 and has received several awards since. It is currently the second-tallest educational building in the world.
Nakagin Capsule Tower
Built in the Ginza area of Tokyo in 1972 in just 30 days, the Nakagin Capsule Tower was the first capsule architecture design of its kind. The structure consists of two towers that support 140 prefabricated capsules (measuring 2.5m by 4m) which were designed to provide a better housing option for travelling businessmen. Each capsule is a self-contained apartment that is attached to the reinforced concrete construction using high-tension bolts.
Located midway between Harajuku and Shibuya on Meiji Dori, The Iceberg is one of Tokyo’s most interesting structures. CDI, the designer of The Iceberg, which was formerly the Audi Forum and is now a WeWork space, stated the inspiration for the unusual design was based on a crystal iceberg and a plastic bottle after going through a shredder. Three types of glass in different hues of blue were used to create the structure which also features an angular facade to give it a three-dimensional quality.
First appearing on Tokyo’s skyline in 2008, this broadcasting tower is located in the Sumida City Ward of Tokyo. The Tokyo Skytree features a large shopping complex with over 300 restaurants and shops, an aquarium, a postal museum and a planetarium at its base as well as two observation decks, Tembo Deck and Tembo Gallery, which provide spectacular views across the city. At Tembo Gallery, there is a steel and glass tube that allows you to look down over the Kanto Region. Impressive!
Despite being stripped of its status as Japan’s tallest building by the Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo Tower remains iconic. Its red and white latticed form, which was modelled on the Eiffel Tower, is a symbol of the country’s post-war thrust into modernity and can be seen from miles around the city. The tower, which is 332 metres tall, serves as a tourist viewing platform complete with cafes, restaurants and even an aquarium.