Eight Famous Buildings in Japan

  • 3 min read
Eight Famous Buildings in Japan

When traveling throughout Japan, one of the most striking features might just be the architecture. The clash of ancient, modern, traditional, and avant-garde often dazzles visitors. In cities like Tokyo and Kyoto, this is particularly evident, whereas cities like Kamakura and Shirakawa-go showcase the ancient styles of Japanese architecture and transport travelers to a time long passed.

Japanese architecture has a style rooted in traditional and cultural exchange with neighboring China and Korea. Shaping these influences into their own unique style, Japanese architecture has come to be known for its simplicity, harmony with nature, and subtle detail.

Eight Famous Buildings in Japan

Among all of the incredible buildings that have been constructed in the long history of Japan, there are a few that hold an iconic spot in the minds of Japanese and foreigners alike. Here are some of them:

Himeji Castle

Located in Hyogo prefecture, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is thought to be one of the finest surviving examples of Japanese castle architecture. Visiting this castle not only offers an opportunity to appreciate this ancient design, but also to steep in the history it holds within its formidable walls.


Arguably on of the most visually striking buildings showcasing traditional architecture, this Zen Buddhist temple was originally constructed in Kyoto in the 14th century. It has since been rebuilt and maintains its original design and incredible golden exterior.

Kyoto Imperial Palace 

Another stunning example of Japanese classical architecture, this former imperial residence highlights some of the influence of Chinese architecture. Open to the public, it is the perfect place to follow in the footsteps of royalty passed.

Eight Famous Buildings in Japan

Tokyo Tower

Appearing in countless movies and anime, this iconic communications and observation tower is the second tallest structure in Japan. Modeled after the Eiffel Tower, it is a symbol of modern architecture in Japan.

Tokyo Skytree

Replacing Tokyo Tower as the tallest structure in Japan, this even more modern communication and observation tower truly showcases Japan’s synthesis of traditional and modern architecture. It is strikingly simple yet intricate. A perfect place to look out over the city!

Osaka Castle

Rebuilt over the years but originally constructed in the 16th century, Osaka Castle incorporates traditional design as well as Western influences. This makes it quite a unique structure and experience to walk through, capturing a special moment in Japanese history.


Located in the ancient capital Nara, this Buddhist temple is home to Daibutsu (Great Buddha), one of the largest bronze statues in the world.

Nakagin Capsule Tower

Since demolished/deconstructed, Nakagin was once the iconic building of future architecture and design. Originally constructed in 1972, it was a mixed-use residential and office tower in Tokyo that pushed the boundaries of form and function, and the perfect example of Japan’s “Metabolist” architectural movement.

Hopefully, this list will give you some travel inspiration on your next trip to Japan, and perhaps a more discerning eye for the buildings around you!


About the author:

Kevin KilcoyneKevin Kilcoyne

The spark that lit Kevin Kilcoyne’s interest in Japanese culture began in elementary school through a friendship with his then classmate Keisuke. Since then, that passion has evolved and bloomed to encompass more than just video games and manga, leading Kevin to live in Japan as a participant of the JET program. During his time in Japan, Kevin sought out as many foods as he could, the experiences and taste memories lingering long after they had gone. Now he is forging a path to link his passions for Japanese food, history, and visual culture and is planning for his return to live in Japan once again. For now, you can find Kevin on Instagram (@waruishouten) where he posts his photography and illustration work. Keep an eye out for more posts and updates as Kevin delves more deeply into his passions for writing and food!

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