House O by Sou Fujimoto, Chiba, Japan.
Kanno Museum by Atelier Hitsohi Abe, Sendai, Japan.
(Image credit: Edmund Sumner/View.)

This welcome addition to the library is a comprehensive overview of over 100 recent projects in Japan, from large scale pieces of urban to small scale residential gems, photographed with an almost fetishistic eye for detail (such as the glossy blacks and velvety concrete of the Ware House in Hokkaido by Jun Igarashi, featured in W*120).

The Sumners have made frequent trips to the country over the years, working closely with the emerging generation of architects and doing much to help bring what was always an exotic but relatively unfamiliar scene firmly into the global architecture discourse.

In her essay on the nature of modern architecture in Japan, Yuki Sumner writes of the inherent dubieties of Japan's architectural spaces, with their little deviations and ambiguities, the subversions of the 'normal' that make for a richly compelling and highly individualistic built environment, from high-tech heroics to carefully crafted wooden pavilions.

As well as the introduction and project texts, the book includes contributions by David Littlefield and Wallpaper* regular Naomi Pollock, covering everything from the complex pillar and slab arrangement of Ito's Sendai Mediatheque to the seamless, neo-digital cityscape created by the new temples of consumption in Omotesando.

What marks these images out is context, be it urban or rural. Always mindful of bringing a building's surroundings to the fore, the Sumners' selection works best when it makes explicit the role played by landscape and nature in contemporary Japanese architecture, be it the tightest urban residence or a lakeside museum
in Gifu.

21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art Kanazawa by SANAA, Ishikawa, Japan.

21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art Kanazawa by SANAA, Ishikawa, Japan. © Edmund Sumner/View.

(Image credit: Edmund Sumner/View)

Tomihiro Museum by AAT Makoto Yokomizo Architects, Gifu, Japan.

Tomihiro Museum by AAT Makoto Yokomizo Architects, Gifu, Japan. © Edmund Sumner/View.

(Image credit: Edmund Sumner/View)

Interior of the Tomihiro Museum by AAT Makoto Yokomizo Architects, Gifu, Japan.

Interior of the Tomihiro Museum by AAT Makoto Yokomizo Architects, Gifu, Japan. © Edmund Sumner/View.

(Image credit: Edmund Sumner/View)

Towada Art Centre by Ryue Nishizawa, Aomori, Japan.

Towada Art Centre by Ryue Nishizawa, Aomori, Japan. © Edmund Sumner/View.

(Image credit: Edmund Sumner/View)

Myagi Stadium by Atelier Hitoshi Abe, Sendai, Japan.

Myagi Stadium by Atelier Hitoshi Abe, Sendai, Japan. © Edmund Sumner/View.

(Image credit: Edmund Sumner/View)

Takasugi-an by Terunobu Fujimori, Nagano, Japan.

Takasugi-an by Terunobu Fujimori, Nagano, Japan. © Edmund Sumner/View.

(Image credit: Edmund Sumner/View)

Meiso No Mori (Forest of Meditation) Municipal Funeral Hall by Toyo Ito and Associates, Gifu, Japan.

Meiso No Mori (Forest of Meditation) Municipal Funeral Hall by Toyo Ito and Associates, Gifu, Japan. © Edmund Sumner/View.

(Image credit: Edmund Sumner/View)

Gifu Academy of Forest Science and Culture by Atsushi Kitagawara, Gifu, Japan.

Gifu Academy of Forest Science and Culture by Atsushi Kitagawara, Gifu, Japan. © Edmund Sumner/View.

(Image credit: Edmund Sumner/View)

G by Jun Aoki and Associates, Tokyo, Japan.

G by Jun Aoki and Associates, Tokyo, Japan. © Edmund Sumner/View.

(Image credit: Edmund Sumner/View)

Gae House by Atelier Bow-Wow, Tokyo, Japan.

Gae House by Atelier Bow-Wow, Tokyo, Japan. © Edmund Sumner/View.

(Image credit: Edmund Sumner/View)

House O by Sou Fujimoto, Chiba, Japan.

House O by Sou Fujimoto, Chiba, Japan. © Edmund Sumner/View.

(Image credit: Edmund Sumner/View)

The Lotus House by Kengo Kuma Associates, Kamakura, Japan.

The Lotus House by Kengo Kuma Associates, Kamakura, Japan. © Edmund Sumner/View.

(Image credit: Edmund Sumner/View)

Tetsuka House by John Pawson, Tokyo, Japan.

Tetsuka House by John Pawson, Tokyo, Japan. © Edmund Sumner/View.

(Image credit: Edmund Sumner/View)

Triad Harmonic Drive Extension Complex by Fumiko Maki, Nagano, Japan.

Triad Harmonic Drive Extension Complex by Fumiko Maki, Nagano, Japan. © Edmund Sumner/View.

(Image credit: Edmund Sumner/View)

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture Editor at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018) and Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020).