Global Voices

Popular Twitter thread highlights dozens of examples of Japan's ‘Bubble-era’ PoMo architecture

Every corner of Japan features examples of postmodern architecture.
Kyoto Station

Interior of Kyoto Station, designed by Hiroshi Hara. Photo by Nevin Thompson.

A popular Twitter thread showcases the continuing presence of strikingly whimsical postmodern architecture in Japan.

Adam Nathaniel Furman, an artist and graphic designer based in London, UK, created a Twitter thread with dozens of examples of postmodern architecture from all over Japan, from the megacity of Tokyo to smaller communities on the northern island of Hokkaido and parts in between.

The thread has been shared thousands of times so far, and provides a good background to postmodern architecture erected in the heyday of Japan's super-affluent Bubble Era of the 1980s and early 1990s, when everyone, including property developers, had plenty of money to throw around.

Furman introduces his Twitter thread by explaining:

[…] Most people associate Japanese design with either cute kitsch or zen-like minimalism, but its much more diverse, & 1 of my particular fav periods was the architecture of its 80-90s boom era; wild, strange & incredibly diverse, & unique in world architectural history

The thread showcases work by some of Japan's most celebrated architects (some of whom may or may not identify as postmodernists), such as Hiroshi Hara and Toyokazu Watanabe.

In terms of what postmodern architecture actually is, writing for Japan Policy Forum, architecture critic and historian Igarashi Tarō notes:

In Japan, the trend for postmodern architecture coincided with the bubble economy. This was a period when strikingly bold forms and daring designs flooded Japanese cities, such as Takamatsu Shin’s Kirin Plaza Osaka and Kitagawara Atsushi’s “Rise.” Peter Eisenman, famous for a relatively small oeuvre of constructed works, was able to build several extremely bold works of deconstructivist architecture in Japan during this period, including the Nunotani Building and the Koizumi Lighting Theater.

Shin Takamatsu has also left his mark on Japan's cityscapes:

Furman demonstrates that every corner of Japan features examples of postmodern architecture, including the remote fishing community of Kushiro in Hokkaido.

Furman's Twitter thread has dozens of other examples of postmodern architecture in Japan. He has also written a book, with Terry Ferrell, about postmodern architecture.

Originally published in Global Voices.

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