Kisho Kurokawa Architecture

Born: April 8th, 1934

Died: October 12th, 2007 


During his time in Kyoto University, Kurokawa worked under Kenzo Tange before establishing his own office.


He was part of the "Metabolist Movement" in the 60's and the Nakagin Capsule Tower (Left, demolished in 2022) was one of his key works.

Kurokawa actually designed the first "Capsule Hotel" which has since then become widespread in Japan.


In his later life, he would make frequent appearances on TV and also was involved in politics, unsuccessfully running for Tokyo Governor and the Upper House. 

Works that can be seen in Tokyo:

Nakagin Capsule Tower (1972-2022)

Made up of two towers, there were a total of 140 rooms (or capsules) the size only about 10 square meters. Equipped with a bathroom, they were designed as a "second home in the city" for Tokyo salaryman working long hours and too worn out to make the long commute home. The idea was that capsules could be added or taken out depending on change in demand, though this never happened.

Towards the turn of the century, the capsules began to show serious decay, and while some of the units were renovated, all rooms had been without hot water since 2010. Following an incident where one of the windows fell down into the street, protective netting surrounded the building in its final years.

UPDATE 2023: Unfortunately efforts to preserve the tower didn't work out and it was demolished in 2022. However some of the capsules were preserved.

Two of them can be observed at SHUTL, an art gallery located in Higashi-ginza, about a 10 minute walk from the original location.

Open 1pm-7pm when there is an exhibition (closed Tues/Wed) Check their website for the exhibition schedule.

Location: 4-1-8 Tsukiji, Chuo-ku

The tower being demolished in summer 2022.
The tower being demolished in summer 2022.
Former tower site, completely empty as of February 2024
Former tower site, completely empty as of February 2024

Japan Nursing Association Building (2004)

In the Omotesando district across from the Omotesando Hills, the building features the glass cone at the entrance that is often seen in Kurokawa's later works. The facade is set back from the main street, allowing for an open space in front of the building.

Location: 5-8-2 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku

The National Arts Center (2007)

The NACT doesn't have any permanent collection, but no matter what is going on, entrance to the building itself is free. Again, you will see gigantic cones everywhere and there are plenty of space to sit down and admire the structure. Unlike other public facilities that close on Mondays, the center takes Tuesdays off. It has extended hours on Fridays, until 8pm.

Works outside Tokyo:


The Museum of Modern Art, Saitama (1982)

It might not be worth the 45 minute train ride north to Kita Urawa just to see the exhibits, but in the adjacent park, you can see the actual-sized model of the same capsules used in the Nakagin Capsule Tower. This was the first art museum Kurokawa designed, the National Arts Center was his last.