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Brian Butterfield Travel Blog

Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Nara, Awaji Island, Himeji, Kanazawa, Naoshima (Setouchi Art Festival), Hiroshima, Fukuoka

  • latest adventures coming soon...

    Naoshima + The Inland Sea: Setouchi International Art Festival, Ando, SANAA, Turrell, de Maria, Lee Ufan, and others...

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    Hiroshima: Tange, Peace Park + Museum, and A-Bomb Domb.

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    Kitakyushu: Isozaki, Monorails, and pasta heads

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    Fukuoka: Rossi, Ambasz, Nexus World Housing, Jerde's Canal City (Pink Deathstar Post Modernism at its hideous best), street food and other adventures...

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  • SANAA @ Night (21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art)

    The Museum's free spaces remain open until 10PM. I believe it was a festival night, because there were fireworks in the distance, but also this place was completely deserted. Making for a great, rather space odyssey feeling night photo shoot.


  • 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art - SANAA

    The total flexibility of the exhibit space here was really impressive. I still have not figured out how SANAA gets away with such seemingly whimsical digramatic plans, but it really works. The exterior pieces are very interactive and engaging to the public, and there is an entire free section of...


  • Kenrokuen Garden - Kanazawa

    Kenrokuen Garden is considered one of the "three most beautiful gardens in Japan" along with Kairakuen Garden in Mito City and Korakuen Garden in Okayama City. It covers more than 25 acres (100,000 m²) Kenrokuen garden was originally the garden of the outer residence of Kanazawa Castle (17th...


  • Kanazawa - Higashi Geisha District at night

    First night in Kanazawa was a sleepy one. These pics are from a night walk. The old houses in the Higashi Chaya district are immaculately well taken care of and at night it is quite eerie walking down empty narrow streets of traditional buildings juxtaposed with fluerescent street lights and...


  • Daisen-in Zen Garden (Daitoku-Ji)

    Part of the larger Daitoku-Ji temple complex in eastern Kyoto, Daisenin is a small but very highly regarded Zen rock garden. Daitokuji has an interesting history, tied to Sen no Rikyū who is the historical figure credited with the biggest influence on Japanese Tea ceremony customs. He worked...


  • Take Ivy

    It seems like every bookstore in Japan has had a run on this book lately. It has been out of print for some time but both a Japanese new edition and an English language version from Powerhouse Books recently sold out like hotcakes in both Japan and the States. (I guess original editions were...


  • Ashiya Fireworks

    A coworker here at Takenaka had a family friend with a boat and was nice enough to invite some of us along. The water was absolutely jam-packed with boats. Pretty surreal, great time.


  • Yale Katakana

    In case you need to know how to write Yale A+A in Japanese.... (Hiroshima Station, not sure what the Yale Yale A Building is but I imagine it is a masterpiece of Japanese Brutalism...though this website suggests otherwise, http://www.yaleyale.co.jp/ )


  • Divine (Spoiled) Deer - Nara Park

    According to local folklore, deer from this area were considered sacred due to a visit from a god riding a white deer. From that point, the deer were considered divine and sacred by the local shrines and the deer were given protected status Killing one of these sacred deer was a capital offense...


  • Nara + Todaiji Temple

    Todaiji was constructed in 752 as the head temple of all provincial Buddhist temples of Japan and grew so powerful that the capital was moved from Nara to Nagaoka in 784 in order to lower the temple's influence on government affairs. Not only does Todaiji housse Japan's largest Buddha, but it is...


  • Oyamazaki Museum - Tadao Ando

    The Oyamazaki Villa is a 1920's Tudor style compound, that served as a salon for many of Kyoto's intellectuals at the time. The building is very nice, in a way it reminded me of Saarinens home Hvitträsk in Finland. Not in style, but in its layout. The Ando museum attached has some impressive...


  • Suntory Time!

    Japan has some damn good whiskey, and if I was allowed to check youtube at work I would make sure this is the right clip, but here it is anyway, For relaxing times, make it Suntory time. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_saLrADKqNM This is the first barrel from the first batch of Yamazaki Single...


  • Kyoto by Bicycle

    These shots were taken by my friend Chihiro on a daylong bike trip throughout Kyoto. The retro saturation and their overall moodiness captures the bizarreness of Kyoto, which really does exist in two different worlds. The historical past often tucked directly behind bullet train stations and...


  • FOOD

    Genghis Kahn (yes, named after the mongolian warrior) Lamb, bean sprouts, noodles, veggies, cabbage, and other goodness. Cooked and served communal style.http://en.visit-hokkaido.jp/foods/bbq.html YAKITORI (Ragtime, one of my favorite little places in Sannomiya - downtown Kobe.) Sannomiya China Town


  • Japanese Hand Planes

    The Takenaka Corporation owns and operates a Carpentry Tools Museum.http://www.dougukan.jp/contents-en/ For a neighborhood festival in the area of Kobe that I live in, some of the master carpenters held demonstrations and gave lessons in how to use Kanna (Japanese planes). The plane being used is...


  • Job site 3

    Chion-in Hotel The Takenaka corporation is currently building a new hotel at the Chion-in Gate, the entry gate (San-mon) to a massive park and multiple temple complex in Eastern Kyoto. Many of the temples are owned by private companies (many still the original family that was responsible for...


  • Kyoto Station - Hiroshi Hara

    Built in the mid-90's, Kyoto Station is massive and at the time very controversial. Even Hara himself has admitted that perhaps the deconstruction inspired complex was too ambitious for the site. Nevertheless it is a stunning way to arrive in the city of Kyoto. The argument that Kyoto is a...


  • Chikatsuasaka Museum - Tadao Ando

    Another Ando....Ando projects photograph really well. This is a museum of Burial Mounds and all the trappings that go with burial mounds. This museum is located in the mountains South East of Osaka in an area where there are a number of traditional burial mounds I couldn't help thinking of...


  • Chochiku-kyo - Kouji FUJII

    Kouji Fujii was a lecturer at Kyoto Imperial University as well as the design Head of Takenaka's Osaka office in teh 1920's. (The house is now owned by a Takenaka Employee so getting to see it was a special priveledge) Influenced somewhat by Wright, this house is an experiement in how to make a...


  • Gion Matsuri

    Gion Matsuri is the largest festival in Kyoto. It spans most of July and ends on the 17th with a huge parade, floats, and festivities. These photos are of the procession of the Mikoshi (portable shrines) that carry the deities that live in the Yasuka Shrine (the orange one in the photos below.) I...


  • Katsura Rikyu (Imperial Villa)

    Completed in 1615 and still mostly in its original (though refurbished) state. One of the few tradional villas to escape fire or other destruction. The entire site is a procession through traditional gardens with a series of resting pavilions, tea houses, and residences sprinkled throughout, all...


  • Yamamura House - Frank Lloyd Wright

    Built in 1924, one year after the completion of his famous Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. The Yamamura house was a collaboration between Wright and two Japanese disciples, Arata Endo and Makoto Minami. The house is very clearly a collaboration, with the Western rooms remiscent of the Robie House or some...


  • Site Visit 2

    Korien Tower (Korien is about half way between Kyoto and Osaka.) Many jobsites in Japan hang immense banners to beautify the construction site. These fish murals are actually the work of the Takenaka construction manager for this job. His side job/ hobby is painting and selling murals. All towers...


  • Awaji Yumebutai - Tadao Ando

    Tadao Ando designed Westin Resort and garden complex. Awaji Island is connected to mainland Honshu via the Akashi Kaikyo bridge, the longest suspension bridge in Japan. Yumbutai is is located on the hillside that was completely stripped for soil in order to make Kansai Airport (Renzo Piano...


  • Site Visit 1

    On the way to the jobsite I shot this building. It is a good example of the number of stylisticaly uncategorical buildings that are remnants of the 1960's and '70s that make up a good portion of the Japanese suburbs. Residential Tower designed and built by Takenaka. I will do a series of these...


  • Sumiya

    Edo Period (1603-1868) Ageya Geisha houses are called Okiya. An Ageya is a larger facility made to be a house of entertainment (performance), restaurant and salon. The Geishas would be summoned from thier respective okiyas to Sumiya to perform and otherwise serve, entertain and occompany the...


  • Kyoto

    Some of my Takenaka co-workers took me and the other two American Interns on a bicycle tour of Kyoto. The highlights were Kinkaku-ji and Kiyomizu, both very recognizable from the guidebooks. Also made stops at the Imperial Palace grounds as well as the Shogo-in Gate, a very impressive wooden...


  • Tokyo - Day One

    So this is very backdated, but I wanted to get something up here. I will go back to Tokyo at the end of my trip to more Architecture related sightseeing. I was in Tokyo for 3 days before heading to Kansai. This was a house on Daikanyama Hill, a very posh neighborhood in Tokyo. I have so far been...


  • Gonbare Nippon

    I have some serious catching up to do. I have been in Japan for 6 weeks now and as tempting as it is to make this a blog about my nights watching World Cup Games at all hours of the night I will attempt instead to distill my experience here over the last month or so in terms of the architectural...


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About this Blog

The Takenaka Internship is granted yearly to one student each from the architecture schools of Yale, M.I.T. and the University of Pennsylvania. The Takenaka Corporation traces its history back more than four hundred years and this internship provides American students of architecture with a summer of valuable training at Japan's oldest architecture, engineering and construction firm. Based out of the Osaka design office, interns participate in various aspects of design and also accompany archite

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