Kyu-Iwasaki-Tei: Ueno’s Secret Mansion

Tucked away behind Ueno Park is an exceptionally preserved piece of history. Unknown to not only many visitors but also local residents, the Kyu-Iwasaki-tei is an architecture-lover’s dream destination. With three beautiful buildings and a peaceful garden, this 19th century property deserves a lot more attention!

Continue reading “Kyu-Iwasaki-Tei: Ueno’s Secret Mansion”

East Meets West at the Kyu-Furukawa Gardens

The scene of roses in front of the beautiful brick mansion at the Kyu-Furukawa Gardens has long been something I’ve wanted to see with my own eyes. Though it pops up often in my Instagram feed, this garden has somehow remained off the tourist trail. Continue reading “East Meets West at the Kyu-Furukawa Gardens”

Akasaka Palace, the Versailles of Tokyo

In the very centre of Tokyo, hidden behind stone walls and a forest so thick it’s impossible to see through, is a place not many people know much about. Separate to the Imperial Palace, the Akasaka Imperial Estate covers about 50 hectares—almost the same size as Shinjuku Gyoen. It’s quite a chunk of central Tokyo! Continue reading “Akasaka Palace, the Versailles of Tokyo”

WPC – Mirror

Omotesando and Harajuku is an area that’s known to push the boundaries. In terms of fashion, basically anything and everything goes. People want to be noticed. Girls get scouted by modelling agencies. What’s seen on the streets here often turns into the next trend.

Not only fashion, but the sleekest pieces of modern architecture are found here. Some of the most famous buildings are Hugo Boss’ hourglass-shaped store, the Audi Forum “iceberg”, Prada’s bubble glass building, the Sunny Hills wooden lattice building, and my personal favourite, Tokyu Plaza’s 3-storey high entrance made with hundreds of tilted, triangular mirrors.

Tokyu Plaza is a shopping complex which was unveiled in 2012 and raised the bar for all future architects. Riding the escalator at the entrance is like being inside a life-size kaleidoscope. Every person is reflected half a dozen times, sometimes walking upside down, sometimes sideways, and appearing and disappearing like magic. It’s mesmerising. Designed by Hiroshi Nakamura, it was created to be an art experience that is forever changing depending on the people around it, the season, weather and time.

Tokyo Plaza

Tokyu Plaza

Tokyu Plaza

Weekly Photo Challenge: Mirror

Weekly Photo Challenge: Grid

Last year, I was very lucky to have been able to get up close and personal with original paintings by Manet at the National Art Center here in Tokyo, which was part of a touring expo from the Musée d’Orsay! Even though NACT is the largest museum in Japan, it only holds temporary exhibitions. In the same year it opened, 2007, NACT hosted “Claude Monet : L’art de Monet et sa postérité”, which saw more than 700,000 visitors over its 76 day duration – an average of over 9,000 people each day! The most successful exhibition to date, though, was in 2010; “Post-impressionnisme 115 chefs-d’œuvre de la collection du Musée d’Orsay” attracted over 10,000 people each day during its 72 days in Tokyo.

Aside from the immensely popular exhibitions, there’s another reason people love to visit NACT. Simply, it is one the most architecturally beautiful structures in the country. Even if there isn’t any artwork showing, it’s worth a visit just for the building itself. NACT was designed by renowned Japanese architect, Kisho Kurakawa, whose work you can see all around Japan, as well as in Australia, the U.S., across Europe, and throughout Asia.

The entrance lobby consists of a massive glass façade that is intended to bring nature in. The outside trees, grass and sky are almost a part of the design! The transparent wall waves around the front of the building in a very elegant manner and in the afternoon, the grid-like beams cast an array of mesmerising shadows all throughout the atrium. It is beautiful, but hard to photograph!

If you’re into fashion design, make sure you check out the next major exhibition The Work of Miyake Issey (March-June, 2016)!

national art center national art center

National Art Center

National Art Center

Check out this week’s Photo Challenge “Grid” for more posts. Thanks Michelle for the theme!

Edo-Tokyo Architectural Museum

In my last post, I talked about the thing I loved best about New York – the buildings and architecture. I swear, it was a complete coincidence that I went to the Edo-Tokyo Architectural Museum on the weekend! My mum was visiting, and I decided to take her there since I’d been wanting to go for a while and I knew she’d enjoy it, too.

I’d first seen the open-air museum back in April when I visited Koganei Park to see the cherry blossoms there. It was closed at the time, but I took a peek through the fence and it seemed very cool! I put it on the “to-do” list, which is where it stayed until this past weekend!

The museum is an open-air village full of buildings collected from around Tokyo (old Edo city). They’re all buildings that are thought to be valuable for one reason or another and were relocated here to help preserve them. There’s about 30 buildings, originally used both privately and publicly, over a huge 7 hectare area. To see every building definitely takes a whole day! Keep in mind, in true Japanese style, you have to take your shoes off every time you enter a house – so you can’t just waltz in and out of each building as you like!

Edo Tokyo Architecture Museum

Walking down the main street “Shitamachi-naka” (downtown) was almost like travelling back in time (except for the bitumen road!). There are lots of different businesses, like a stationery store, soy sauce store, and makeup store, as well as public buildings like the giant public bath and a very old bar! Everything is so well reconstructed and restored that you can really get a feel of how these places were in their heyday!


There are also quite a few residential houses from across Tokyo. Most of these houses belonged to the “upper class”, or at least important people, and therefore look pretty nice! There used to be a massive divide between the upper and lower classes of Japan. I’m sure the poor farmers did it tough, while the wealthy lived it up in places like this!


Until December 14 (2014), there’s a special exhibit in the main entrance building featuring work from Studio Ghibli. I didn’t realise it was on actually, but the Ghibli movies are my favourite Japanese animation flicks, so I was pretty happy! I’ve been to the actual Studio Ghibli museum which is in nearby Mitaka, but the paintings, sketches and miniature models on display here were amazing. The detail the artists are able to produce is incredible! If you get the chance, I highly recommend you go! (Although don’t be like me and go on a long weekend – it was too crowded!)


Wondering how to get to this awesome place?? (click on the top left box on the map for more detail)

Visit the English webpage for more information >>