The Kagawa Prefectural Government Office East Building is a wonderful piece of architecture done by none other than Kenzo Tange. Over the past few years, I have grown to really love Kenzo Tange’s design forms and while he is no longer with us, his style is really obvious and as long as you have seen a few of his most famous examples, it isn’t difficult to see it in all of his other buildings.
Completed in 1958, it took 3 years to build the entire complex. The design was cutting edge at the time and a few of the ideas have continued to be used in buildings being built today. One such technology was to utilize a “spine” as a central supporting column for the main building. As you walk around the East Building, you will notice a central column of concrete and that is the main support for the building.
Getting to the Kagawa Prefectural Office is actually pretty easy, but it isn’t very convenient. It is just over 1 km south of JR Takamatsu Station. If you head to the bus terminal on the south side of the station, you will see a somewhat large street at the western corner of the bus loop. Take this street south and you’ll be at the Prefectural Office. Alternatively, if you are coming from Kawaramachi Station, head out the west side and follow the main street that is next to the northern corner of the bus loop. Just head down the street and you’ll run into the Prefectural Office.
The first building that you will see is the Legislative Assembly Hall. It is a long rectangular building that takes up the entire front of the street. You actually can’t really see too much from the main street as the Assembly Hall dominates the view. It is difficult to get photos of the entire complex from here as there are now tall buildings surrounding the complex.
My favourite part of the Legislative Assembly Hall was the first floor plaza area. They have a small taxi stand as well as access for official cars to go to the new Prefectural Offices. Under the Assembly Hall you can see the wonderful design that Kenzo Tange created. It really reminded me of my old university stomping grounds with concrete and wood stair cases going up into the interior. I wish I could access everything but being a tourist after business hours, everything was off limits to me.
If you head a few metres west, you will see a nice garden on the south side of the East Offices. The garden is quite beautiful and it is supposed to be inspired by traditional Japanese gardens. Many of the stones are “Aji” stones which represents a good harvest. While inspiration was taken from Japanese temple gardens, some of the ideas contradict this idea. Either way, the garden is really nice with a small pond and many changes in elevation allowing you to enjoy the garden from many different perspectives.
The main piece of the East Offices is the offices themselves. The main building is a square shaped 8 story building. I really thought it was beautiful and wished I was there when they were open. Unfortunately I was there too late to enter and the building was closed. Thankfully I was able to walk around it and enjoy it from outside.
Inside, in the main lobby, you can see “Wakeiseijaku-Harmony, Respect, Purity, Tranquility” by Genichiro Inokuma. Mr. Inokuma worked with the Kenzo Tange Laboratory to create an integrated piece within the building. Genichiro Inokuma designed the main artwork that is on the wall while Kenzo Tange Laboratory worked on the chairs and tables. Everything you see has been integrated into a single artwork and it really works well.
Talking about the Kagawa Prefectural Offices cannot be complete without talking about the neighbouring building, the new Prefectural Offices. While I didn’t realize it at the time, I found out that the new modern building next door is actually designed by Kenzo Tange as well. I was a bit surprised as I didn’t really like it as much. It was very functional looking and didn’t have the same artistic flare of his more traditional works. I’m a bit sad about this but I guess the government needed something functional rather than artistic.
The entire complex is a wonderful place to visit. If you like architecture, or you love Kenzo Tange’s work, you really need to visit this place. It is a wonderful example of his works and I really think you’ll enjoy it. If you are into art, Genichiro Inokuma’s work is pretty interesting, but it didn’t speak to me as much as Kenzo Tange’s designs did. The park is also wonderful and probably the most fun I had in the area. The complex isn’t for everyone but it is still a lovely place.
- Kagawa Prefectural Offices Government East Building (Official Kagawa Prefecture’s Information)
- Kagawa Prefectural Government Office (Wikipedia – Japanese)
- Kagawa Prefectural Government Offices (Tange Associates Official Site)
- Kagawa Prefectural Government Hall (japan architecture + urbanism)