Omotesando & Aoyama

A showcase of the modern architectures

Originally, "Omotesando" refers to the first approach to the Meiji Shrine, and is the main street that connects Aoyama Street and Meiji Jingu (JR Harajuku station square). The straight road, with a width of about 40 m and a length of about 1.1 km, is famous for over 160 beautiful zelkova trees lined up on both sides. Due to its appearance and many fashionable cafes and luxury brand boutiques, sometimes the street is called the "Champs Elysees in Tokyo."

The area, including Aoyama Street and Miyuki Street around Omotesando Street, is also called Omotesando. I want to introduce to you some of the unique buildings scattered in this broad sense of "Omotesando."

Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku

The types of shopping facilities often look similar because they are built for an economic interest that increases tenant fees. However, Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku has taken a different measure for making profits.

The main entrance is located on the 3rd floor, passing through the 1st and 2nd floors occupied by global brands. The forest is created on the rooftop, and Starbucks, which is usually a roadside store on the first floor, is invited to the roof.

The iconic and bold design also deconstructs the standard relationship between roads and buildings. It is a monumental project where space design challenged the principle of capital.

Omotesando Hills and Dojunkai

Dojunkan is an organization established to support the reconstruction of the Great Kanto Earthquake that occurred in 1923. The purpose was to supply housing with non-combustible reinforced concrete construction. The Dojunkan apartment is valuable in the history of housing and culture since this was the first reinforced concrete housing complex in Japan. The zelkova trees on Omotesando Street, except for the trees in front of the Dojunkai Apartment, were burned down due to the Tokyo air raid in 1945. The result proved the apartment worked quite well as a firewall.

Mori Building Group redeveloped the apartment as "Omotesando Hills" in 2006, designed by a Japanese architect giant, Ando Tadao. He faithfully reproduced the exterior of one building located eastern end as the Dojunkai Aoyama Apartment.

Dior Omotesando

Since architectures are enormous, they usually have to rely on hard and durable materials such as irons concretes to maintain its shape. Architects cannot ignore the influence of gravity. On the other hand, they have always longed for lightness like clothes. How can architects realize such ideas? SANAA, led by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, answered the questions by Dior Omotesando, which was built in 2003.

Mr. Sejima and Mr. Nishizawa focused on one element that never changed, Dior's drape. The expression of the Dior' dress constantly changes due to the flicker of the floating drape. SANAA expressed the softness of the drape by surrounding all four sides of the building with an acrylic screen. Acrylic has the same refractive index as glass but is lighter and softer than that. On the surface of the acrylic screen, the ceramic print is printed in stripes at an 8 mm pitch, making it white like lace and translucent.

More stylish architects are shown in the video below.


There are many characteristic buildings in Ginza. Some architectures give off a retro atmosphere while others get stuck in a strange shape. Ginza has been at the forefront of the time both in the past and present, and never bores us, constructing unique facilities. By the way, the Urban Building Law, created in 1919, limited the maximum height of a building to 100 feet (31 meters). Since the regulation continued after the war, 31-meter buildings were lined up in the Ginza area.

Let me introduce some of them.

"Ginza Maison Hermes" at the intersection of Sukiyabashi is an overwhelming work that has an 11-story, and has about 45m high, and wrapped in 13,000 glass blocks designed by Renzo Piano, an Italian architect. The size of the glass block is the same as the iconic Hermes scarf.

"The Nicolas G. Hayek Center", a new base for the Swatch Group in Japan, opened in Ginza. Ban Shigeru was in charge of the design. He created the concept of "Avenue" that connects the main street and the back street, and the seven showrooms installed there directly lead to each of the boutiques.

"The Louis Vuitton Matsuya Ginza store" had the first large-scale renewal since its opening in 2000. The exterior features a full facade covering the 8th floor of Matsuya Ginza. The Damier pattern is one of the symbolic motifs of "LOUIS VUITTON." Soft Damier with soft curves is adopted. At night, the impression of the exterior changes into the one reminiscent of a monogram motif. Peter Marino directs the interior whose theme is travel, the DNA of "LOUIS VUITTON." He uses lights effectively to create a futuristic space.


Marunouchi area is a 120-hectare Tokyo business center located between JR Tokyo station, which is made of the iconic red bricks and is the gateway to Tokyo, and the Imperial Palace.

The history of Marunouchi dates back to more than 400 years ago. Edo Castle existed in this area, which had been the center of politics, economy, and culture since the opening of the Edo government (1603). Feudal lords' residences were built at the current Marunouchi's office district to protect the castle and support the prosperity of the Shogunate.

After the Meiji Restoration (1868), Edo Castle became the Imperial Palace, and the site of Daimyo's residence transformed into an army training ground. After that, the Meiji government decided to urbanize the Marunouchi by selling the area to private companies. Eventually, the Mitsubishi group, which was asked to buy the place, decided to purchase the land with a lump sum payment. The first development of Marunouchi began in 1984 with the completion of Mitsubishi Building No. 1, which was the first office building in Marunouchi. After that, red brick buildings were built one after another, and the iconic streetscape was called "London Block."

However, when Tokyo Station opened in 1914, the development area expanded toward the station, and the place turned into a large group of American-style buildings. The Marunouchi Building (known as Marubiru), which was completed in 1923, was a milestone in achieving the goal. Marubiru had been popular for a long time as an open office building with a shopping arcade on the first floor. Around this time, the height of the building was restricted to 31 meters (100 feet). The Marunouchi skyline was lined up to 31 meters, and the cityscape was called "New York Block."

Continuous rebuilding into large-scale buildings began when Japan entered a period of high economic growth. The small blocks were consolidated, and the roads were widened—the series of the changes was the second development that forms today's Marunouchi. Since then, the height of the building has reached over 100 meters. But Marunouchi continues to maintain an orderly aesthetic atmosphere.

The main reason is that "Marunouchi Reconstruction," which started with the rebuilding of the Marunouchi Building, was conscious of "retaining the old landscape of 31-meter buildings." Many new high-rise buildings in Marunouchi are divided into the low storied parts and storied high parts and change their design at around 31 meters high. By emphasizing the 31-meter line, the district creates a sense of unity. You will find many discoveries if keeping in mind the switching points of the buildings while strolling around the Marunouchi area.