KAGAWA: Treasure House of Modernist Architecture
Kagawa Prefecture is the smallest of the 47 prefectures of Japan in area. It puts emphasis on the promotion of architecture and art as a main pillar of its regional development. The prefectural commitment began during the post-war era in the mid-1900s when the then governor devised an individual policy to rebuild the prefecture's capital city, Takamatsu. Takamatsu City had been reduced to ruins because of repeated air bombings during World War II. The governor launched a huge project of constructing a new building for the prefectural government office that would serve as a symbol of not only post-war reconstruction but also democracy. The spirit of the governor has lived on to date across the prefecture. On this episode of Journeys in Japan, we introduce several architectures that represent Kagawa, and explore the history and culture of the prefecture that has chosen to follow its own path.

Kagawa Prefectural Government Office East Building

The modernist architecture was designed by Tange Kenzo, who was one of the most recognized architects in Japan. Tange worked on the major construction project at the request of Kaneko Masanori, who shouldered the post-war reconstruction of Kagawa as prefectural governor. Kaneko was often called by nicknames of the "governor of design" or "governor of architecture." The East Building displays the fine beauty of Japan's traditional architectural style with modern materials such as concrete pillars and beams. It has a spacious public area at the entrance where people gather and relax. The free area was added to the government facility at Kaneko's request as well.

Honen-Ike Dam

Exposed to wind and rain over years, the magnificent dam has a dignified and distinctive appearance that may remind you of an ancient castle from the medieval Europe. The first multiple-arch dam in Japan is designated as an important national property. It's been nearly 90 years since the construction, the Honen-Ike Dam remains active as an important water supplier for local farms.

(Old) Kagawa Prefectural Gymnasium

The old gymnasium in Kagawa is often called a "twin" of the Yoyogi National Gymnasium (the Yoyogi National Stadium / the Yoyogi 1st Gymnasium) in Tokyo that was built for the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games. Both buildings were designed by Tange Kenzo in the same period. The unique architecture has a dynamic shape of a Japan's traditional wooden vessel. It has been closed since 2014 due to problems with its earthquake resistance. There are growing public voices in the country demanding that the historical architecture be preserved.


By air, it takes about 80 minutes from Haneda Airport in Tokyo to Takamatsu Airport in Kagawa.