TOKYO: Two Sides

A Metropolis of Wood and Steel

In Japan, past and the future exist side by side, with the line between them often blurred. At the center of it all is Tokyo, a city where ancient traditions are being reinvented for the 21st Century, and where futuristic designs, from bold and challenging flower arrangements to the city’s very skyline, all take inspiration from the past. Visit today and meet the contemporary masters who help make Japan’s capital a vibrant metropolis of two souls intertwined.


Ikebana is the traditional Japanese art of flower arrangement, originating from the 7th century when floral offerings were made at Buddhist altars. CNN explores the influence of the art on Tokyo’s traditionalists and disrupters alike, from sparsely elegant compositions to abundant arrangements of blooms and leaves.
How can the centuries-old art form of ikebana be recomposed with a modern twist?


The art of making the kimono, Japan’s traditional dress, has fallen into steep decline.These days the garment is mostly worn by women on special occasions, but a special group of craftsmen and designers are trying to preserve the enduring symbol of Japan, from embracing its historical lineage to taking its philosophies to futuristic ends.
See how even the most futuristic-looking clothing is inspired by the traditions of kimono-making.


“The Great Wave off Kanagawa” by Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai is perhaps the world’s best known example of ukiyo-e, a genre of Japanese art that heavily influenced contemporary manga and anime. Today, the woodcut prints are enjoying new life, as contemporary artists add their own interpretations.
Who knew that traditional wood-block prints on social media would be the perfect match?

Toyo Ito’s Architecture

Architecture from Japan has traditionally been defined by its relationship to nature, from physical proximity to building materials. Architect Toyo Ito’s vision for harmony between the natural world and his designs is best seen in his work at the Tama Art University Library in western Tokyo, where a forest of arches melds seamlessly with the surrounding woods.
How does one feel at peace in a concrete jungle? Learn how traditional Japanese architecture has intertwined nature and design.

Kazuyo Sejima’s

Contemporary architect Kazuyo Sejima says she draws inspiration from Japan’s architectural past in her minimalist designs that are defining Japan’s future. She channels the age-old use of space found in traditional Japanese architecture in her Tokyo projects, like the Sumida Hokusai Museum and the Shibaura House.
See how a haven in the heart of Tokyo was created for the individual and for the community through a hybrid of senses.

  • Kazuyo Sejima


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