Home » I couldn’t stop time for Nakagin Capsule Tower

I couldn’t stop time for Nakagin Capsule Tower

I’ve heard some photographers say photography can stop time.  When you hit that shutter button, everything freezes.  Do you believe that?

upper areas of Nakagin Capsule Tower

I don’t.  No way.  Nothing controls time, least of all a camera.  Yes, I know these people are simply misspeaking themselves.  But it annoys the heck out of me.  It would be great if they could stop using the phrase.

nets over Nakagin Capsule Tower

What happens is that the image you take will never change.  Whether digital or in print, it will remain like that forever.  Well, you could manipulate it somehow (e.g., Photoshop).  That is the nature of photography.  Every frame you take, meaningful or not, allows you to look at something that once was.  Why am I talking about this?  Usually, I’m not so philosophical.  There is a point to this, I promise you.


My favorite television show is Shinbi-no-Kyojin (Giants of Modern Art).  It is on TV Tokyo, every Saturday night, at 10 pm.  Every week the program looks at a painter, a building, an architect, or someone creative.  It’s great.  I watch it religiously every week.  In its latest episode, it featured Nakagin Capsule Tower.

Nakagin Capsule Tower viewed from lower right

I’m sure you’ve seen or heard of Nakagin.  A friend once said it looked like a Rubik’s Cube.  He was right.  It does look like one of those.  

Nakagin Capsule Tower next to Mitsui Garden Hotel

While the building is not what it once was, it has enormous historical significance.  It was a part of the metabolism movement.  Nakagin is one of that type of architecture’s last remaining examples.

Nakagin Capsule Tower apartment exteriors

And it will soon be gone.  That’s right.  Someone will demolish it.  One day, I (or even you)  will be in Shinbashi, and it will no longer be there.  Another example of Metabolism architecture will disappear.  That is going to hurt.

Metabolism architecture in Tokyo

And before that happens, I want to get pictures of this fabulous building.  I won’t be able to stop time, but I will have some photos of a place that has meaning.  They won’t be when Nakagin Capsule Tower was in its prime, but at the end of its life.  

And that is okay.  I will enjoy looking back at a time when the Nakagin Capsule Tower once existed.  Photography gives me a little window back into the past.  That thrills me.  We need to take a lot more pictures.  I don’t want us to lose our history.

Looking up at Nakagin Capsule Tower

What’s the point of this story?  Well, I’ve walked by that building so many times.  I know it well, but I haven’t taken many photos of it.  When I had the chance, I just kept walking.  That is something I’m going to regret now.  Those opportunities will never occur again.

So, take your pictures.  Don’t worry if you are in an embarrassing or awkward situation; push that shutter button.  Because if you don’t, that time and that place will never return.  Time never stops.

Kisho Kurokawa building

Nakagin Capsule Tower Photograph information

  • Handheld bracketing
  • Each picture here is a composite of two frames
  • Nakagin Capsule Tower information
  • Architect:  Kisho Kurokawa
  • Architectural Style:  Metabolism
  • Construction Started:  1970
  • Construction Completed:  1972
  • Number of floors:  13

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2 thoughts on “I couldn’t stop time for Nakagin Capsule Tower”

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