ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailPositive ArrowIcon Print
Kikukawa's factory crew (Photo by Kohei Take)

Transforming buildings into icons

Japanese metalworker Kikukawa's precision skills wow star architects

Kenji Hall | Japan

Columns, roofs, doorways, walls and ramps are those vital bits of buildings that rarely draw attention. They’re sup­posed to be functional but who says they have to be generic? The question has led a growing list of architects and designers to make the pilgrimage to a factory in a gritty part of Shiroi, a city near the east­ern edge of Tokyo.

This is where Kikukawa, an 85-year-old family-owned company with 200 employees, has sculpted exquisite steel, bronze, aluminum and titanium facades and interiors for luxury retailers, office buildings, train stations and museums around Japan. Its handiwork has gone into Japan’s ancient temples and tall­est towers. Despite its modest size, Kikukawa’s name carries weight in the country’s 52 trillion yen ($462 billion) construction sector. Architects such as Kenzo Tange, Arata Isozaki, Kengo Kuma, Toyo Ito and Kazuyo Sejima have all commissioned the company for their building projects.

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

Discover the all new Nikkei Asia app

  • Take your reading anywhere with offline reading functions
  • Never miss a story with breaking news alerts
  • Customize your reading experience

Nikkei Asian Review, now known as Nikkei Asia, will be the voice of the Asian Century.

Celebrate our next chapter
Free access for everyone - Sep. 30

Find out more