Bizarre By Design: The Top 10 Weirdest Japanese Buildings

Japan may be the place where conformity is king but their architects never saw the memo. These 10 weird, wild and even wooly Japanese buildings take the concept of multistory strangeness to a higher level, albeit one that the elevator will still stop at.  

Nakagin Capsule Tower

The Nakagin Capsule Tower, designed by Kisho Kurokawa and opened in 1972, is an outstanding example of Metabolist architecture. The futuristic central Tokyo building is made up of 140 identical, pre-assembled, fully-furnished cubical “pods” individually mounted to a 14-story tall central shaft. Nice place to visit but would you really want to live there? (Bizarre Japanese building image via House of Japan)

M2 Building

Dating from 1991 but evoking a much earlier era, the M2 building in Tokyo's Setagaya ward was designed by Kengo Kuma for M2 Incorporated (“Mazda Too”), a former niche-product R&D company owned by Mazda Motor Corporation. Perhaps they should have done some research and development of what constitutes attractive design. In any case, all's well that ends well: M2 Inc closed in 1995 and the building is now used as a funeral hall. Sic transit gloria! (Bizarre Japanese building image via Kunstler)

Rocket Building

The Rocket Building in Omiya, just north of Tokyo, was built in the early 1980s to be a museum... presumably one showcasing space and astronomy. The building's top story once acted as a rotating observation deck putting a new spin on the ol' capsule hotel concept. These days, the nine-story metal-skinned “urban spaceship” plays host to a number of unrelated concerns including a 24-hour daycare called the Rocket Nursery, a conversation cafe and a cosmetician college where they DON'T teach rocket science. (Bizarre Japanese building image via Kiji)

Aoyama Technical College

In Tokyo's upscale neighborhood of Aoyama, one building stands out like a sore robotic thumb: the Aoyama Technical College, designed by Makoto Sei Watanabe in 1990. By the looks of it, the red, white & grey superstructure is (optimus) primed to morph Transformer-style into an enormous Gundam variant should Japan be threatened by space aliens, Godzilla, or both. (Bizarre Japanese building image via Världens Häftigaste)

Nanohana-Kan Communication and Recreation Plaza

Designed by by Masaharu Takasaki and opened in 1998, the Nanohana-kan Swimming Pool and Spa Hall is a recreation center for senior citizens. Presumably Takasaki is counting on none of the senior citizens having witnessed the Hindenburg disaster, because that would sort of ruin the mood. Oh, the elderly humanity! (Bizarre Japanese building image via 4travel)

Kamiyubetsu Folk Museum

The Kamiyubetsu Folk Museum was designed by Toyokazu Watanabe in 1996 and although its formidable appearance invites comparisons to the worst nightmares of Industrial Revolution luddites it merely houses a rural folk museum. One wonders what the local rural folks think of it, especially on moonlit stormy nights. (Bizarre Japanese building image via JA+U)

Gate Tower Building

“Hey, your highway's stuck in my building!”... “No, your building's blocking my highway!” The consensus decision is, they're both right. The Gate Tower Building in Osaka opened in 1992 but the 16-story tower only has 13 usable floors: the 5th, 6th and 7th floors are occupied by an off-ramp of the Hanshin Expressway – it even says so on the lobby directory (don't expect the elevator to stop on those 3 floors, however). The Gate Tower Building is a perfect example of an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object with an ending which satisfies all concerned. (Bizarre Japanese building image via Itaime)

Asahi Beer Hall

Downtown Tokyo's Asahi Beer Hall itself isn't wholly remarkable but the oddly organic golden “Asahi Flame” on its roof certainly is. Designed by artist & architect Philippe Starck and intended to evoke the cloud-like foamy head of a freshly poured mug of Asahi draft beer, the 360-ton hollow sculpture has instead been informally dubbed “the golden turd” atop the “Poop Building”. It's enough to drive an architect (or those who hired him) to drink. (Bizarre Japanese building image via Chakuriki)

Kihoku Astronomical Museum

What is this I don't even? The Kihoku Astronomical Museum was designed by Masaharu Takasaki in 1995 and sorry to disappoint everyone but it neither houses a telescope nor is it one. Instead, the curious aggregation of oddly shaped metal components and the disturbing group of associated moth-egg-like outbuildings is meant to evoke the strangeness of outer space... in that, they were successful at least. (Bizarre Japanese building image via Stickam/Takecchi)

Shime Mine Winding Tower

To the anti-zombie fortress, right beside the playground! Beloved by believers in the coming Zombie Apocalypse, the winding tower of the former Shime coal mine near the city of Fukuoka is an ivy-covered, reinforced concrete remnant from the darkest days of World War II. If the structure survived the ravaging raids of angry B-29s, it can surely hold out against flocks of stubborn zombies. Come at me bro! (Bizarre Japanese building image via Wikipedia)


Between earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis and Godzilla, Japan has done more than its share of urban renewal. Give 'em credit for not taking the easy way out by slapping up Soviet-style building block buildings every time disaster strikes, and for making both their country and our world more interesting in the process. (Bizarre Japanese building images via Al's Photos, top, and The Courier-News, above)

Nov 7, 2012
by Anonymous

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