Book: 21st Century Tokyo
While not exactly pocket-sized, this guide to the new buildings of Tokyo eschews the grainy thumbnails of most architectural guidebooks in favour of full-page crisp black and white imagery.
If anything, this aesthetic scrubs off the layer of gloss usually associated with the city’s fast-moving built environment. Perhaps that’s just as well: given the dizzying speed of development in Japan, the solidity, simplicity and gravitas created by Joshua Lierberman’s photography implies a permanence that’s often wilfully overlooked by Western commentators.
Many of the structures within are deliberately iconic, their forms derived from the far reaches of pop culture or artistic expression. To the casual enthusiast, brought up to believe Japan is a culture of constant change, the chance to revisit some post-Metabolist classics is more than welcome.
As you might have guessed, the title is slightly misleading, for the book includes work from the early 90s onwards, focusing mainly on the big commercial buildings and brand cathedrals that have come to characterise districts like Omotesando and Roppongi.
A full complement of maps, helpful text and plenty of historical insight makes this a fine introduction to one of the world’s most glorious cityscapes.