When I visited Imabari for the first time, I knew I had to visit a very rare tourist sight. I had to visit the Imabari City Hall Complex and see the buildings. While most people would shrug at such a strange concept, if you know anything about Japanese architects and architecture, you’ll learn that it is a very important place to visit for anyone who has a love of architecture.
The Imabari City Hall and City Assembly was designed by Kenzo Tange. He designed a lot of important buildings, but his most famous one is the Yoyogi National Gymnasium or the Hiroshima Peace Museum. For me, I was first introduced to his architecture when I first came to Japan and lived in Shinjuku, technically Shibuya. I would always look out my window and see the Tokyo Metropolitan Buildings which were designed by him. I didn’t really like it but it was definitely iconic.
Getting back to Imabari, the two buildings he designed were pretty simple. Information about the buildings is pretty sparse in English and I could only find photos of the building and the date that they were built. I actually have to thank Kaori of Kaori Square Feet and her post when she visited the Tange by Tange Exhibit. It led me to re-learn about Kenzo Tange and get interested in seeing these buildings in person. If I didn’t see that post before I left, I probably would have skipped visiting these buildings.
Getting to the City Hall is pretty easy. From Imabari Station, head out of the north exit and follow the main street. Once you get to the next main street, turn right. There is a huge ship propeller in a small park in front of City Hall. Next to the propeller is the City Hall complex. Kenzo Tange designed 2 of the buildings and I must say that I was a little underwhelmed. I think the designs are really interesting and the photos of the interior look great, but I didn’t get a chance to go inside. I was a little afraid that going inside was off limits to people who actually have business to do.
The buildings themselves remind me of brutalist designs; they often use a lot of concrete and force really interesting shapes. It also has a very Tange feel as the shapes and curves in the concrete with glass are really reminiscent of his general designs. I am really happy that I could visit the city hall. My only regret is that I only spent a few minutes outside the buildings and it was difficult to really get good photos of the buildings. If I’m ever in Imabari again, you can be sure that I will take a closer look at these buildings next time.