Since the turn of the millennium, Japanese architects have created dazzling structures characterized by transparency and lightness. Add the following buildings to your itinerary for a glimpse of the future of architecture.
Sumida Hokusai Museum, Tokyo
A solo endeavor by Kazuyo Sejima of mega-firm SANAA, the 2016 Sumida Hokusai Museum in Tokyo’s Sumida ward brings together more than 1,800 prints by 19th-century artist Katsushika Hokusai. Its bold spaces recall the lines of his woodcuts.
Musashino Art University Museum & Library, Tokyo
Sou Fujimoto, Japan’s most in-demand architect, specializes in minimal environments that invite exploration, such as a house made of stacked glass boxes. His 2010 library at Tokyo’s Musashino Art University has a labyrinthine interior with a single, spiraling wall of books.
Toyama Kirari, Toyama
Kengo Kuma’s résumé includes Tokyo’s New National Stadium, where the 2020 Olympics will be held. For this 2015 building in Toyama, on Honshu’s west coast, he squeezed a public library, bank, and museum of glass art into a single bristling envelope.
Awaji Yumebutai Park & Conference Center, Awaji Island
Tadao Ando updates Japan’s tradition of garden design. Located on an island that lies between Honshu and Shikoku, the Awaji Yumebutai complex, which includes a Westin hotel, features 1,000 fountains and a terrace of 100 planted enclosures.