BAA Destinations: Japan

As a practice we are dedicated to research. This involves travelling around the world to discover new and different ways of designing.


This year we have flown pretty much everywhere from LA to New York, Moscow, Romania and more. Our architects are always journeying to unique and beautiful places independently, capturing hidden gems and striking architectural landmarks.  We are delighted to share our findings and tips on the best architecture to see, food to eat and destinations to explore.


Where did you go?

KD: We started in Tokyo, then made our way to nearby Mt Fuji. From there, we travelled to the Kiso Valley, and then north via Nagano to the city of Kanazawa on the West coast. After this, we went south and spent 24hrs on Naoshima Island, and ended the trip in Osaka and Kyoto.

BW: From Tokyo to Kyoto and back again via Takayama, Kanazawa and Matsumoto

What impressed you most about the architecture?

KD: There are no party walls!

BW: The contrast between tranquil meticulously crafted interiors and chaotic unplanned city sprawl.

What was your favourite building or design feature?

KD:  A lot of Japanese restaurants are organised for individual diners, eating over a relatively short period of time. Many restaurants are therefore arranged like a bar, sometimes with panels separating adjacent diners, with food sometimes ordered from a ticket machine to limit contact with staff. I love dining alone, so this was a dream come true.

BW: The hotel we stayed at in Kanazawa (Share Hotel KUMU https://www.thesharehotels.com/kumu/?wovn=en) which was a modern twist on traditional Japanese interiors. And all of the beautifully detailed timber.

What was your accommodation like? 

KD: Experienced the full spectrum, from capsule bunk-bed dorms to luxurious spa resorts, via Airbnbs and traditional ryokans (Japanese inns).

What would you recommend visiting while there?

KD:  Any hardware store.

What was the food like?

KD:  Varied, complex, delicious. My main discoveries were Japanese sticky rice with raw eggs and soy sauce (for breakfast), and convenience store egg-mayo sandwiches.

BW: Incredible. Except octopus balls.

What was particularly surprising about the customs or way of life?

KD:  The apparent total dedication to the greater good of society. Also the fact that you don’t have to give your seat up to elders

BW: An culturally ingrained selfless respect for others that makes even the most hectic Japanese cities feel totally different - friendly, welcoming and not at all intimidating.

How would you summarise your experience in a sentence?

KD:  I want Japanese citizenship.

BW: I would go back tomorrow

Photography and text courtesy of Kirti Durelle & Ben Watson