5 Kansai Art Museum Architectures that Mix Modernity, Tradition and History

Following the previous article on Art Museum architectures in the Kanto region, we now present you those the Kansai region.
We hope you will enjoy the multicolored architecture of Kansai.


  1. Nakanoshima Museum of Art, Osaka
  2. Sumiya Motenashi Cultural and Art Museum, Kyoto
  3. Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art, Hyogo
  4. Nara Prefectural Museum of Art, Nara
  5. The Museum of Modern Art Wakayama, Wakayama

1.Nakanoshima Museum of Art, Osaka

The core architectural idea of Nakanoshima Museum of Art, with its impressive appearance of a large black box floating in mid-air, is “passage”. It was designed with the theme of an open space that allows people of all ages to casually visit.
The exhibition spaces are located on the third through fifth floors, while the first and second floors are public spaces that can be used by visitors other than those attending exhibitions. The building’s atrium creates an open space with a sense of unity. The use of black and glass walls creates a sense of novelty in each space, which is also one of the building’s attractions. We feel warmth in this museum that connects the inside and outside of the building.

2.Sumiya Motenashi Cultural and Art Museum, Kyoto

The Sumiya Motenashi Cultural and Art Museum has been designated as an “Important Cultural Property” as the only remains of Ageya architecture. It was originally an elegant restaurant where banquets and dinner parties were held accompanied by the entertainment of geisha. Built in 1641, it is a two-story wooden structure with a lattice work exterior that was widely used in machiya houses in Kyoto in the early-modern period.
Various types of walls are used inside the building, including white stucco walls, yellow otsu migaki, and asagi-colored kujo mud walls. The red walls are said to have been the most luxurious walls of the time, showed the high status of the Sumiya building. The exhibits include the Sumiya building itself as well as art works from the collection, which are displayed and open to the public, allowing visitors to experience the atmosphere of the Edo period.

3.Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art, Hyogo

Designed by Tadao Ando, one of Japan’s leading architects, the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art was designed based on the concept of not only displaying works of art but also providing a place for the fusion of various art forms. The famous circular terrace, the symbol of the museum, is a spiral staircase that connects each floor from the basement to the rooftop space. The contrast of light and shadow shining in from overhead is exquisite and harmonious, like a single work of art. The outdoor decks, named “wind,” “sea,” and “mountain,” respectively, provide a space to enjoy nature and the building from the outside.
The building itself can be considered as art, and different expressions can be seen depending on the time of day and the season.

4.Nara Prefectural Museum of Art, Nara

The Nara Prefectural Museum of Art is a modernist building designed by Mitsuo Katayama. The Nara Prefectural Office Building to the south and the Nara Prefectural Cultural Hall to the west were also designed by Mitsuo Katayama, creating a sense of unity around the museum. The concrete eaves rafters peek out from the cubic roof exterior, giving the building a Japanese warmth. The entrance hall is a two-story atrium with a distinctive pattern of lights on the ceiling. The interior of the museum is simple and compact, bringing out the best in the exhibits while minimizing the architectural assertiveness of the building itself.

5.The Museum of Modern Art Wakayama, Wakayama

The Wakayama Prefectural Museum of Art, located adjacent to Wakayama Castle, was designed by Kisho Kurokawa. Kurokawa’s design concept of “symbiosis” is reflected in this museum.
The museum was designed with attention to both traditional and contemporary landscaping. The roof eaves, which are used extensively, are calculated to blend in with the surrounding landscape by using the same shape as Wakayama Castle. The stone steps, lanterns, streams, Noh stage, and other external structures also represent Japanese tradition. The building was designed with a meticulous attention to “symbiosis” down to the smallest detail.

In this issue, we have introduced museum architecture in the Kansai region.
We hope you can spend some relaxing time surrounded by art and architecture.


7 Museum Architectures with Attractive Designs & Concepts 【Kanto Area】

The lingering summer heat has subsided, and autumn has gradually arrived in full swing.
When you think of autumn, what about the season comes to mind? Autumn is a season when people enjoy sports, reading, and eating…. One more thing that cannot be missed is the season of the arts. In this issue, we would like to introduce some art museum architecture in the Kanto region. We have gathered a number of buildings with appealing concepts that make the most of their locations.
Why not visit an art museum during this pleasant season and experience some wonderful art and spaces?


  • Tenshin Memorial Museum of Art, Ibaraki
  • Stone Plaza – Nasu Ashino Stone Museum, Tochigi
  • Gunma Museum of Art, Tatebayashi
  • Kawagoe City Art Museum, Saitama
  • Ichihara Kohan Art Museum, Chiba
  • SOMPO Museum of Art, Tokyo
  • POLA Museum of Art, Kanagawa

1.Tenshin Memorial Museum of Art, Ibaraki

Tenshin Memorial Museum of Art, Ibaraki is located on the Izura Coast, which is said to be the preferred location of Tenshin Okakura, and was opened as a place where visitors can view the outstanding works of Tenshin Okakura, Taikan Yokoyama, and other artists from Izura. The museum and observatory offer a beautiful view of the coast.

The architecture was designed by Naito Hiroshi, who has worked on numerous public facilities. The most impressive point of the design are the beams with a strong presence visible from the main entrance. The thin, precast concrete beams are arranged in the form of trusses, creating a stunning and powerful impression.

2. Stone Plaza – Nasu Ashino Stone Museum, Tochigi

Originally a stone warehouse built in the Taisho and early Showa periods, this stone museum was reconstructed by architect Kengo Kuma. Located in Ashino, Nasu-cho, one of the leading stone production areas in Tochigi Prefecture, Ashino and Shirakawa stones mined on the land and in the neighborhood are used. The building is composed of several spaces, and the space where outside light can be seen through is a room with unique masonry. The stone tea ceremony room, the first of its kind in Japan, is a must-see. In addition, the all-stone space is an exciting place to learn about the history of stone, mining and finishing methods, and other topics in the gallery where special exhibitions are held regularly.

3.Gunma Museum of Art, Tatebayashi

Tatara-numa, Tatebayashi City, Gunma Prefecture, was chosen as an appropriate location for the museum’s theme of “the relationship between nature and humans”. The Tatara River to the north, wetlands to the southeast, and rice paddies to the southwest surround the museum. In order to minimize the lines dividing the space, the design was simplified as much as possible by utilizing materials such as stone, aluminum, glass, and water, and is beautifully integrated with the surrounding rich natural landscape.
The annex, with exhibits by François Pompon, was designed to resemble a farmhouse in the Burgundy region of France, with European roof tiles and limestone piles that are completely different from the stylish main building. This museum is a win-win situation for architecture lovers.

4.Kawagoe City Art Museum, Saitama

Kawagoe City Museum of Art is located in Kawagoe, a land of historical townscape. It is surrounded by the Kawagoe Castle Honmaru Goten and the City Museum, which is on the former site of Ninomaru next door. The building’s design has an exterior inspired local culture by Kawagoe merchant house of kurazukuri style. Using white plaster walls and Japanese roof tiles, the building harmonized with the remaining historic buildings, while mixing in modern materials brought a freshness to the kurazukuri style.
If you walk a bit further, you can enjoy the streets of Koedo Kawagoe Ichibangai, where traditional kurazukuri architecture stands in full splendor. Recommend for those who are interested in historical buildings.

5.Ichihara Kohan Art Museum, Chiba

The Ichihara Lakeside Art Museum is a nature-rich art museum located on the banks of Lake Takataki, which boasts the largest reservoir area in Chiba Prefecture. Based on the concept of “an oasis in the metropolitan area”, the museum was created as an art museum in the form of the renovation of a tourism and cultural facility that opened in 1995, a place rooted in the community where children can enjoy and have a new experience.
Utilizing the unique framework of the existing building, various spaces are created by inserting a lead-plated iron plate wall called the “Art Wall”. There is also an observation tower and a restaurant in the surrounding area, allowing visitors to experience the timelessness of architecture while experiencing artworks in the midst of nature. It is truly an art museum to be enjoyed with all five senses.

6.Sompo Museum of Art, Tokyo

The SOMPO Museum of Art was opened in 1967 as part of the SOMPO Group’s contribution to society. It is known as the only museum in Asia where Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” can be viewed.
The exterior and interior spaces of the museum was completely renewed at the time of its relocation in 2020. The building was designed with soft curves and curved surfaces, as if the building were a sculpture-like work of art. The entrance is made of a glass curtain wall, 16 meters wide and 8 meters high, with a gentle arc of glass that connects the building to the cityscape, creating a transparent and open museum.

7.POLA Museum of Art, Kanagawa

The Pola Museum of Art, located in the forest in Hakone City, Kanagawa Prefecture, exhibits a collection of more than 9,500 items collected by the late Tsuneji Suzuki, former chairman of the Pola Group, over a 40-year period. Based on the concept of “the symbiosis of art and nature in Hakone,” the building is kept at a height of only 8 meters so as not to encroach on the trees in the forest, and the museum expresses the harmony of art and nature by placing priority on preserving the natural landscape. In order to create a museum interior with abundant light and greenery, the use of a large amount of glass was meticulously planned and calculated. Therefore, even if you are underground, natural light will flood into the museum, allowing you to enjoy the natural beauty of Hakone and its art.

Introduced here is some museum architecture in Kanto, Japan.
We hope you will enjoy the “Art of Autumn” by experiencing this art and architecture.


Design for〝Beijing Xidan JoyCity 2F Jewelry Theme Zone″Wins DNA Paris Design Awards 2022.

The DNA Paris Design Award was established in Paris in 2019 by the Farmani Group and a creative collective known as “In Between”.

The Farmani Group is also an organizer of the International Design Award (IDA), the Architecture Master Prize (AMP), the European Product Design Award (EPDA), the Paris Photo Award (PX3), the London International Creative Awards (LICC), the International Photography Awards (IPA) and the Lucy Photography Awards, which is considered the most prestigious photography awards in the world.

In Between is a Paris-based collective of philosophers and creators who come together to create something new and unprecedented.
From the launch of the fashion brand 〝Supermarket Paris“, to rooftop construction and design, to the production of content and documentaries, the collective continues to inspire the world as a group that pushes the borders of what it means to be a complex thinker.

The DNA Paris Design Award is an international award recognized by design professionals around the world, presenting and celebrating the achievements of architects and designers whose practical, beautiful, and innovative designs can improve our daily lives.

The ‘Beijing Xidan JoyCity 2F Jewelry Zone‘ is not a classical space that emphasizes the luxury of a traditional jewelry shop, but rather a “BrandMix“ that includes a casual café space。The result is a “self-first” space with diversity.

The concept keywords are (1) “Mine” (jewelry mine/one’s own) and (2) “Shine” (the sparkle of the jewelry/life), derived from the characteristics of the jewelry. To realize the concept, the design was inspired by the image of a soft, bright, clean, and calm jewelry mine.

The result is a wonderful space with a sense of unity as a zone, that also respects the concept and spatial expression of each brand.

Every year, GARDE actively engages in PR activities to promote design spaces and design excellence by entering several national and international design awards.



Click here for award results:

VMware Japan Office Wins “5 Star” Award at the International Property Awards, Asia-Pacific Category!

The VMware Japan office designed by GARDE was awarded a “5 Star” award in the Interior Design Awards/Office Interior category of The Asia Pacific Property Awards.

Now in their 29th year, the International Property Awards are judged by a panel of over 80 industry experts, with a focus on design, quality, service, innovation, originality, and commitment to sustainability.

The International Propety Award is widely recognized worldwide as a highly prestigious design award.

The Asia Pacific Property Awards are the most recognized design awards in Asia, with many properties entering each year to compete in terms of design, quality, innovation, and originality.

Among a large number of entries, the design of the VMware Japan office was selected as a 5 Star entry.

VMware, Hong Kong and Indonesia were the only three properties in Asia to receive the “5 Star” award, and the only one from Japan.

The International Propety Award is proof that the office designs created by GARDE are comprehensively superior in terms of “quality”, “service”, “innovation”, “originality” and “sustainability”. Designs created by GARDE will continue to develop into the future with high expectations for the potential of GARDE’s designs.


Every year, GARDE actively engages in PR activities to promote design spaces and design excellence by entering several national and international design awards.









International Propety Award official website:

Click here to see the award results:

『People, Design, Space』#2: Francesco Ristori, Anna Nishigori

The Candeo Hotels Kyoto Karasuma Rokkaku won GOLD in the MUSE DESIGN AWARDS 2022.

Francesco Ristori and Anna Nishigori are young designers who are steadily developing their skills and practice, including interior design for the hotel.

In this interview, we focused on the design work conducted at Candeo Hotels Kyoto Karasuma Rokkaku, and interviewed the two about how they became interested in design and their personal lives.

*Francesco Ristori, hereafter referred to as “Francesco”; Anna Nishigori, hereafter referred to as “Nishigori.”


◆First of all, please tell us about your backgrounds.

Francesco: “I studied architecture at the University of Florence. After graduation, I worked in Italy designing residential and retail buildings and restoring many historical buildings. In the process, I became interested in designing new buildings and decided to move to Japan, where there are many historical buildings, just as in Italy.”

 Nishigori: “I originally majored in civil engineering. However, I became interested in the renovation of historical buildings after encountering Tate Modern in the UK. So, I decided to study interior design in England.”

 ◆Please tell us about the properties you have worked on since joining GARDE.

Francesco:“Since coming to Japan in 2014, he has participated in a wide range of office, hospitality, residential, retail, and department store projects in Japan and Asia, including, MetLife Tokyo Garden Terrace Olinas Tower, Candeo Hotels Kyoto Karasuma Rokkaku, Kosugi 3rd Avenue, HOTEL ARU KYOTO Sanjo-Kiyamachi, and many other projects in Japan and Asia at large, in a wide range of genres including office, hospitality, residential, commercial, and department stores. My current focus is office design.”

 Nishigori: “Since joining the company, I have worked on interior design for various genres such as hotels, retail, and food halls. For example, I have been in charge of designing various properties with a focus on hospitality design, such as Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel, Candeo Hotels Kyoto Karasuma Rokkaku, and US HOTEL.”

◆What did you keep in mind when designing Candeo Hotels Kyoto Karasuma Rokkaku?

Francesco: “I felt that Kyoto has a strong identity and connection with its neighborhood associations in a positive sense;where communities are formed,and culture is nurtured. I thought this was very valuable and would continue to be so, so I tried to ensure that the hotel design would gently blend in with the town while maintaining harmony with the surrounding community.

Nishigori: “When we first toured the house, the machiya was very dark, but due to the nature of the lounge, we tried to create a bright space that everyone would want to enter as a place welcoming to guests. On the other hand, there were many regulations that made it difficult to design the space, such as not allowing holes in the beams due to the fact that is a historical building. In this situation, we worked while considering how to integrate  `character` of Candeo Hotel, and how to express it in the design.

◆What are some of the things that have inspired you?

Francesco:“The key to the design of the Candeo Hotel is its femininity. Therefore, we picked up the best materials that convey a soft and elegant image, starting with feminine colors, and worked to incorporate them into the design without being obnoxious.”

Nishigori: “Since the concept of the `character` of Candeo Hotel  was `glitz and glamour`, we were inspired by jewelry as a symbol of that concept.”

◆What are the key points of the design and what do you definitely want people to see here?

Francesco:“The courtyard is the focal point of Candeo Hotels Kyoto Karasuma Rokkaku, where the fragrance of the historic machiya house and the gentle, modern design of the new building merge. I hope you will see and feel it.

Nishigori: “The structure of the room currently used as a BAR is interesting and definitely something to behold”

◆Through the MUSE DESIGN AWARDS and other design awards, our designs have been highly evaluated. What are the points that you think have been highly evaluated?

Francesco:  “I believe that the gentle blend of the new structure with the historic building is a key point in its evaluation.

Nishigori: “I think the key to the design is in the fusion of old and new, with a connection between the historical value of the townhouse itself and the new building that takes advantage of this value.”

◆What have you learned through the design of Candeo Hotels Kyoto Karasuma Rokkaku?

Francesco: It was very exciting to be involved in a project that blends historical buildings that tend to be untouched depending on their intended use with new architecture, transforming them into completely new structures, and I believe it was a wonderful experience for my future design work.

Nishigori:There were more regulations than for buildings I had experienced before, so I learned a lot thinking about how to give shape to the design I envisioned. Specifically, I did research on buildings in advance and designed them while thinking about where to show them off.”

◆How do you want to use this in your future design work?

Francesco:  “In future projects, as in this one, I would like to design with consideration for the surrounding history and community. The reason for this is that regardless of whether it is a new property, renovation, or refurbishment, we believe it is the job of the architect/designer to pass on to the next generation the history and culture that has already been nurtured in that location, and the connection to the surrounding area that has always existed.”

Nishigori: “When designing, you must think about the actual construction method and how it will fit together beautifully.”

◆What design or project (either domestic or international) would you like to be involved in or work on in the future?

Francesco:“Based on this experience, we would like to reincarnate and renovate historical buildings as office environments, making the best use of modern technology and methods.”

Nishigori: “If given the opportunity, I would like to design a renovation of a historical building again.”


◇From here on out, we’re going to talk about the designer`s private lives…

◆I think your schedule becomes quite hard when you are close to the deadline. Is there anything you do to keep yourself going even in such a situation?

Francesco:“I am not doing anything special. The closer the deadline gets, the more efficient my production naturally becomes (laughs).”

Nishigori:“I try to get a good night’s sleep.”

◆How do you spend your days off?

Francesco: “I leave the city with my family and get in touch with nature.”

Nishigori:“Schooling, working on assignments, playing with my cats, and going out for a nice dinner with my husband!”

◆I think that a balance between design and mind/body is very necessary. What do you recommend to keep this balance?

Francesco:“For me, the moment I leave the office, I try to forget about work and switch to personal mode!”

Nishigori:“It’s all about eating good food and getting a good night’s sleep!”

◆What do you think is the one thing you must not lose when you are involved in the design business?


Nishigori: “The spirit to never give up”

◆What do you want to convey through architectural design that will last for 100 or 200 years?

Francesco:“I believe that the quality of design can be found in the importance of history. In other words, architectural design is connected by connecting history. That is what I would like to convey

Nishigori: ”Quite simply, I think good design is appreciated regardless of time.

◆What advice would you give to those who want to get involved in design and make a living from it?

Francesco:“Design is a multi-sensory experience, not just a desk study. Always be curious about what happens in before your eyes, and be curious about a wide range of things, not just design!”

Nishigori:“I think it’s important to actually experience it for yourself!”

◆What appeals to you?

Francesco: “I think this is where I have an international mindset and like to take in even more different perspectives, ways of thinking, and ideas.”

Nishigori: It’s an INFP-T type of place!


The two artists strive to improve their senses and skills while maintaining a good daily life-work balance and at the same time feeling the importance of design. We look forward to seeing their designs enriching the eyes and hearts of many people around the world in the future!

◆Candeo Hotels Kyoto Karasuma Rokkaku

Tori-Doma / passageway
guest room














■Designer Profile

Francesco Ristori
International Design Division, Office Department, Architect, Designer
After achieving a master’s degree in architecture at the University of Florence, he specialized in Italy in housing and retail projects, as well as heritage buildings restoration. Since 2014 he has been involved as designer at GARDE, operating in Japan and Korea, China, and south-east Asia, involved in several project scales, such as corporate offices, hospitality, residential, commercial facilities, and department stores.

Anna Nishigori
Design Division, Large-scale Facility Design Department, Designer
After studying interior architecture in the UK and obtaining MA, she joined GARDE in 2017. She was involved in the concept planning, schematic design and construction document of Kyoto Candeo Hotel and Osaka’s new hotel. Utilizing the interior architecture technology she learned in the UK, she has been involved in various projects both in Japan and overseas with the focus on hospitality design.

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