The Kadokawa Culture Museum: The New Stony Landmark of Tokorozawa, Saitama

If you're familiar with Japanese magazines, manga, novels, and movies, the name Kadokawa should be no stranger to you. This publishing company has collaborated with the city of Tokorozawa, Saitama to create Tokorozawa Sakura Town in 2020, a brand new complex with environmental, cultural and commercial elements. Among these is the Kadokawa Culture Museum, which was designed by the world-famous architect Kengo Kuma. Let's look at this enormous stone building together!

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Tokorozawa Sakura Town, Home of This New Landmark

As a media giant, Kadokawa is very active in promoting Japanese culture, going so far as to establish a public interest corporation, the Kadokawa Culture Promotion Foundation. Its collaborative initiative with the City of Tokorozawa, the "Cool Japan Forest Project," was completed in 2020. Tokorozawa Sakura Town (Japanese website) opened on July 17, boasting a variety of facilities including the Kadokawa Culture Museum, a printing factory, a new office for the company, an event space called the Japanese Pavilion, EJ Anime Hotel, Da Vinci Store, Kadokawa Restaurant and more.

Building this ambitious, mysterious Kadokawa Culture Museum required tremendous effort. Let's look into how this building came about!

A Renowned Architect's Gigantic Masterpiece

A JR Musashino Line train will take you to Higashi-Tokorozawa Station. Walk along the road to reach Higashi Tokorozawa Park, and the magnificent Kadokawa Culture Museum is hidden just behind the greenery.

The museum is a hybrid of a library, art gallery, and museum. World-class architect Kengo Kuma was working on the Japan National Stadium, the main stadium of the Tokyo Olympics, at the same time that he designed the complex. It is exceedingly impressive even among his many works. The rocky polygon appears as if it has risen from the earth itself, a sight that is at once lively and powerful.

Buildings of the 20th century are often built with mass-produced construction materials like concrete and iron, but Kengo Kuma believed that they should return to simpler roots and decided to go with wood and stone. With the Japan National Stadium representing wood, the Kadokawa Culture Museum was thus made to represent stone. Two glorious additions to the architectural world in the year 2020!

The Kadokawa Culture Museum is over 30m tall. Its outer wall consists of about 20,000 granite slabs, each weighing 50 to 70kg. The granite was extracted from the mountains of Shandong, China, then sent to Xiamen, Fujian in southern China for processing, before finally being shipped to Japan. The entire batch has a total size of 6,000m2 and weighs 1,200 tons - that's equivalent to 120 10-ton trucks!

Zooming in, it becomes clear that the designer was trying to highlight the irregular nature of stone, as seen in the slabs' surface and arrangement. This is perhaps the most prominent feature of the Kadokawa Culture Museum.

Instead of a polygon, Director Seigo Matsuoka views the museum as an "angular structure". When rays of sunlight hit the intricate, uneven outer wall from different angles throughout the day, the building's appearance changes as well. Every slab has its own pattern and color; sometimes they glisten like the scales of a fish, other times they are rough like the skin of a dinosaur. This symphony of light and shadow is a spectacular show orchestrated by nature itself.

If you're interested in Kengo Kuma's other stone-made pieces, you should visit the V&A Dundee, the British V&A Museum's Scotland branch. It opened in September 2018 and is now one of the hottest tourist spots in Scotland.

Inspired by Scotland's coastal cliffs, this stone gallery also protrudes from the riverbank, capturing the very core of Scottish culture. Some might say that the Kadokawa Culture Museum is an upgraded version of V&A Dundee!

The Kadokawa Culture Museum in Figures

Height: 39.65m (5 stories), 31m from the foundation
Total floor area: Approx. 12,000m2
Total no. of stone slabs on the outer wall: Approx. 20,000
Weight of each stone slab: 50-70kg
Total size of stone: Approx. 6,000m2
Total weight of stone: Approx. 1,200t
Stone's place of origin: Shandong, China
Designed by: Kengo Kuma & Associates

For more information about visiting Saitama, check out the official Saitama Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/saitamajapan.en

Cover photo: prtimes


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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

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