Friday, September 13, 2019

An Icon of Metabolism: The Miyakonojo Civic Center

While in Miyakonojo I stopped by a strange piece of architecture, the Miyakonojo Civic Center.

It was built in 1966 and was designed by architect Kiyonori Kikutake.

Kikutake was part of an architectural movement called Metabolism that operated in the 1950's and 60's, and was almost a purely Japanese movement. It claimed to be a reaction to Western modern architecture that it said was too much based on the machine.

Quite a few of the top architects of late 20th Century Japan were part of, or influenced by, Metabolism, but in reality not a lot got built, rather utopian designs for cities and towns were the main focus.

World Expo 70 in Osaka was perhaps the peak of metabolism with many of the architects and designs being featured there.

I'm sure that when it was constructed, with fresh white concrete, it must have looked quite impressive.......


  1. Let me at it with an EWP and petrol power washer, would take me a week.

    Mind you, the Japanese do love their moss and mould everywhere...

  2. I lived near Miyakonojo in the 1980s, and these pictures have stirred my memories. I remember that the outside of the Civic Centre building seemed uncared-for, and the building was somewhat out of place in rural Japan. Many buildings in the region were finished in raw concrete with no paint or tiles, and turned depressing shades of black and grey as above in the high heat and humidity. I wonder if it is still the case today.

    1. it continued in a big way as you described for a couple of more decades after the 80's...... less now but still a lot of undecorated concrete around looking uglier and uglier