Awaji Island is an interesting place in Japan; it’s a small island that sits between Honshu and Shikoku and is more famous than an island that small really should be. People around Japan know about Awaji’s famous naruto whirlpools (which I assume are caused by chakra or something), and it was also the epicenter to the devastating 1995 earthquake.

But beyond its famous natural phenomena, humans have created a beautiful world on Awaji Island. The architecture on this small island is more “world-class” than “small island.”

Awaji can thank architect Tadao Ando for all of the beautiful, interesting architecture on the island. Ando is one of Japan’s most “Japanese” architects, and has won countless awards for his work. But it seems interesting to me that he’s focused so much on Awaji.

Dream Stage (夢舞台)

The Dream Stage is sprawling, multi-use complex designed by Ando. While it’s mainly billed as a conference center, it’s a lot more exciting than that. Dream Stage has lots of different sections, each of which boasts its own architectural beauty.

Photo by Mungo Binkie

Miracle Planet Museum of Plants (奇跡の星の植物館)

The Miracle Planet Museum of Plants (besides being a ridiculous name) is, essentially, a giant greenhouse with five different sections, each showcasing a different climate or style.

Photo by 663highland

Photo by 663highland

Hundred Step Garden (百段苑)

One of the most iconic parts of Dream Stage is the Hundred Step Garden, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. The garden is divided up into little square plots of land, which each have different flora growing in them.

Photo by Mungo Binkie

Photo by 663highland

Water Temple (本福寺)

Years before Ando designed the Dream Stage, he drew up plans for the so-called Water Temple. While most people think of that hellish level in Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time when they hear the words “water temple,” the Water Temple Ando built is a much less stressful place.

Built for the Shingon Buddhist sect, one of the oldest and most secretive sects of Buddhism in Japan, the Water Temple is an extremely clean, modern, and minimalist building on the outside, mostly comprising smooth concrete and water; but the bright red woodwork on the inside exudes traditionalism.

Photo by Ou Kinhaku

Photo by Mungo Binkie

Photo by Ou Kinhaku

(Hat tip to Jasmine from Zooming Japan)

  • Cojocaru Ana

    beautiful <3

  • François-Xavier Thomas

    I wonder, isn’t that Hundred Steps Garden very similar to the (deadly) garden in the Aeon Flux movie? That movie definitely had a particular architecture, so… I tried looking but couldn’t find any references of that being an inspiration.

    Anyway, beautiful nature, as usual! :)

  • ジョサイア

    This is why Japanese always do the best on Minecraft!

  • kleinir


  • orangedude

    It’s not bad, but it’s not exactly my taste. It is cool how they incorporated vegetation with the buildings though!

  • Edward Ramirez


  • Ruben

    And Japan just keeps surprising me in a breathtaking way !
    Art is really amazing in Japan !
    美術 !

  • Pepper_the_Sgt

    He uses a lot of concrete and I don’t really like that. Maybe I’ve just attached negative connotations to concrete, but I find it unappealing. I guess I need something flashier or maybe his stuff just isn’t my taste. Which is a shame, because the architecture does seem brilliant when I make myself look past all of the concrete. I’m sure it’s a stylistic choice, so to each their.

    Also, I bet it gets really freaking hot there. There’s hardly any shade outside!

  • Brittney Howdyshell

    This is what everything is going to look like in the future.

  • zoomingjapan

    Yumebutai is awesome! I’ve been there last year in October and the colors were so beautiful. Especially the cosmoses! :D
    One day I want to travel by car from Kobe over Awaji Island all the way to Naruto! ^____^

  • Carol Matsubara

    Did you know he’s self-taught? I’m a bit of an Ando fan..

  • 古戸ヱリカ

    Now that is a lot of Windows logos.

  • Judith

    I only live like 2 hours from there, and I’ve never been! I didn’t realize it was anything besides that island highway buses drive through :p I’ve got my next day trip planned now!

  • Antisthenes

    Concrete, concrete, concrete… You beat me to it. One thing Japan needs no more of is concrete. Also true of the shade. Japanese cities in summer are unlivable because of concrete, and if your shade tree casts shadow on your neighbour, you can be taxed! Nonsense. Concrete is not warm in winter, either…

  • Ricardo Caicedo

    The hundres step garden looks beautiful.

  • Cole Bearden

    Absolutely Beautiful.