olympic stadium

Architectural Legend Kengo Kuma

Get to know one of the architects behind the new Olympic Stadium

Iconic Japanese architect Kengo Kuma is one of the brains behind the design of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Stadium. Founder of Kengo Kuma and Associates, Kuma has designed impressive architectural works all around the globe. His first encounter with architecture was at the age of ten, when he visited the Yoyogi National Gymnasium—a venue used for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

Kuma’s designs have a distinct touch. They pay homage to traditional Japanese techniques while incorporating modern elements and natural, sustainable materials. Locally-sourced wood takes center stage—many of his noteworthy projects use criss-crossed or interlocking wooden beams. He also uses unconventional and unexpected materials like bamboo, stone, and ceramics. Visitors to Kuma-designed spaces can appreciate how he masterfully manipulates light and emulates the form of ancient temples and traditional Japanese houses.

Kuma’s architectural pieces tend to blend in naturally with their environment. You can spot plenty in Tokyo (see below). Architecture buffs can choose to make a pilgrimage to the lush, forested village of Yusuhara, Kochi where he has created a number of masterpieces since the 90s. You can visit the town office, library, and art gallery, all which showcase local cedar wood and carpentry techniques.

For somewhere closer to Tokyo, pay a visit to the Kadokawa Culture Museum in Saitama—a granite edifice which houses offices, an art gallery, library, and hotel. If you're looking for a luxurious Kuma-themed getaway, stay at the Atami Kaihourou Hotel’s stunning Water/Glass Guesthouse or camp at the Snow Peak LAND STATION* in Hakuba.

* Japanese

Pick up some Taiwanese pineapple cakes at SunnyHills
Location: Omotesando
Offer a prayer at Akagi Shrine
Location: Kagurazaka
Enjoy coffee and sweets at Kurogi
Location: Hongo-Sanchome
Peruse priceless art at Nezu Museum
Location: Omotesando
Admire the architecture of Takaosanguchi Station before hiking up Mount Takao
Location: Hachioji
Learn about local attractions at the Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center
Location: Asakusa
Sample green tea at Jugetsudo Tea Shop & Cafe
Location: Ginza
Enjoy a kabuki performance at the Kabukiza Theatre
Location: Ginza

Currently we have six works of Kengo Kuma here in Yusuhara Town,the first of which, Kumo-no-Ue-no Hotel, was built in 1994. Our partnership has lasted for about thirty years since he participated in a movement to preserve an old wooden theater in Yusuhara, which eventually led him to pursue wooden architecture. The buildings are not only designed to fit the surroundings of the town but each shows a different presence, attracting a lot of visitors.