An Interactive Look at Japan's Tall Building History

An Interactive Look at Japan's Tall Building History

A new research study conducted by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), entitled Tall Buildings in Numbers – Japan: A History of Tall Innovations, examines the evolution of tall buildings in Japan since the 1960s. The study highlights key innovations in Japan’s skyline through a compilation of graphic representations, including a timeline of notable highrises, a scatterplot of towers over 150 meters and annual construction rates, and a comparison of skyscraper density with regional populations.

View the interactive charts after the break.

As explained by the CTBUH, Japan’s unstable climatic conditions have contributed to its innovative skyscraper designs. Japan lies in one of the most active seismic zones in the world and supports one of the densest populations, with an average of just under 340 people per square kilometer. These combined figures have repeatedly contributed to mass devastation in the wake of natural disasters, and have pushed Japan to investigate building methods capable of withstanding such adversities.

Mapping Japan: Population and Skyscrapers

Courtesy of CTBUH

The graphic study reveals wide regional differences in skyscraper characteristics across Japan. In terms of skyscraper density, there is an extensive variance, with Tokyo’s 114 skyscrapers representing a staggering 59.4% of its built environment while Kyoto has no qualifying towers. Although less drastic, these numbers roughly correlate with population density, with the notable exception of Osaka which supports only 2.1% of the population but has the second highest skyscraper density at 16.7%.

Skyline of Important Skyscrapers in Japan

Courtesy of CTBUH

As for its most notable highrises, the majority of Japan’s history is concentrated in Tokyo. Since completion of the Kasumigaseki Building in 1968, Tokyo continually increased the height of Japan’s tallest skyscraper for three decades, until the Landmark Tower shifted the title to Yokohama in 1993. Currently, Japan’s tallest building is the Abeno Harukas completed last year in Osaka, which stands at 300 meters tall.

Timeline of Important Skyscrapers in Japan

Courtesy of CTBUH

Overall trends in tall building construction (qualified in the study as 150+ meters) remained relatively uniform during the two decades following Japan’s first such construction in 1968, with rates under five buildings annually. In the following years, Japan saw a drastic jump in the yearly average of highrise construction, with a rate of 10 buildings per year between the early 1990s and late 2000s. Construction rates peaked in 2008 with 22 completed skyscrapers, and have gradually fallen since then, returning to its initial rate with 2 new skyscrapers this year.

For more information on Tall Buildings in Numbers – Japan: A History of Tall Innovations, visit the CTBUH website.

About this author
Cite: Holly Giermann. "An Interactive Look at Japan's Tall Building History" 07 May 2015. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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