Kenzo Tange Architecture

Born: September 4th, 1913 in Osaka

Died: March 22nd, 2005

Awarded Pritzker Prize in 1987


Kenzo Tange is the one of the most recognized architects in the 20th century, and many of his works can be seen around Tokyo and you might bump into one without realizing it is a work of Tange.


He was most active at a period when Japan was beginning to rise to the top ranks economically, and enabled him to take part in many major public projects, including the arenas for the 1964 Summer Olympics.


Despite being a big name, a few of his notable works such as the Hanae Mori Building and the Akasaka Prince Hotel have been demolished in recent years in favor of new ones. 

Works by Tange in Tokyo area


Yogogi Gymnasium (1964)

The bigger No. 1 arena was used for the swimming competitions in the '64 games while the smaller No. 2 Arena was for basketball. The latter is still used for basketball matches. Meanwhile the No. 1 Arena is now mostly utilized for concerts and occasionally volleyball. Extensive renewal of the structure was carried out from 2017 to 2019 and the arena was used for the handball competitions in the 2020 Games.


St Mary's Cathedral (1964)

It is across the street from the Chinzanso Hotel in the Bunkyo-Ward. The funeral of Tange was held here.

Visits are allowed from 9am-5pm, but you are asked to refrain from photography when inside.

Location: 3-16-15 Sekiguchi, Bunkyo-ku. Closest station is Edogawabashi, on the Tokyo Metro Yurakucho Line.

Shizuoka Press & Broadcasting Tower (1969)

Next to the railroad tracks near Shimbashi Station, this tower is a prime example of the "metobolist" movement at the time. The idea was, rooms could be added (or taken out) to the core based on demand.

Looking like a tree with branches spread out, the additions have never taken place.

Location: 8-3-7 Ginza, Chuo-ku

Kuwait Embassy (1970)

Tange was working mainly in the mideast during the 1970s so very little of his works can be seen from this period. The upper floors (residence) and lower zone (public area) is connected by a shaft containing elevators, a common feature on Tange's works. There were plans for the building to be torn down in spring of 2018 but never happened. Signs notifying construction were later removed and the building remains in use.

Location: 4-13-12 Mita, Minato-ku

Tokyo Metro Government Building (1991)

Built in the midst of the "bubble economy"; public works like this would likely come under heavy criticism now a days.

There is a free observation area on both towers at the 202m level.

The Park Hyatt nearby was also designed by Tange and is where scenes in "Lost in Translation" were taken. 

Fuji Televison HQ Building (1996)

In the man-made Odaiba Island district along the waterfront. The sphere at the top is a studio for the channel 8 Fuji TV's morning news show and also open to visits during the day with wonderful views of Tokyo Bay. 

Works outside of Tokyo


Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum/Memorial Park (1955)

Here you can see the influence of Le Corbusier in the pillars of the museum building. The city of Hiroshima has managed to keep this building in good shape whereas many of the Tange architecture from the 50's and 60's are starting to disappear in recent years. 

The museum is opens daily at 8:30 with different closing times depending on the season. Closed on Dec 30/31.

Kagawa Prefectural Gymnasium (1964)

Built around the same time as the Yoyogi Gymnasium, and with the same method to support the roof (use of wires like in a suspension bridge). The gym closed down in 2014 over concerns of the roof collapsing. 

Construction of the SANAA-designed public arena is underway near Takamatsu Station and the prefecture has concluded that the preservation of the old gymnasium is not financially feasible.


Location: 2-18-19 Fukuokacho, Takamatsu, Kagawa Pref