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Tokyo International Forum is great for photographers

When was the first time I photographed Tokyo International Forum? It was spring 2018. One day I planned to photograph Yushima Tenjin’s plum blossoms. But upon discovering the flowers weren’t in great condition. That left me scrambling to find a replacement.

Tokyo International Forum walls and ceiling

Where to go? What to do? I didn’t know. I live in this fantastic city, which many consider a mecca for photography. You’d think I wouldn’t have trouble thinking of somewhere to go, right? I couldn’t think of one! After much thought, I realized I wanted to do an iconic place, preferably architecture. That is something I don’t usually do. I got some ideas in my head and started looking for options. After some time, Tokyo International Forum came to mind.

Tokyo International Forum exterior

How can I describe it? Many people say it looks like a ship on the outside. I can only agree. It definitely has that shape. And it has some blinds that run along the windows. Maybe they are sails?

Others say the interior resembles that of a whale. I also see that. If you stand on the ground floor and look up, the ceiling looks like the rib cage of a cetacean.

man walking through shadows

What is Tokyo International Forum?

Tokyo International Forum is a multi-purpose concert/exhibition hall near Yurakucho station. Designed by world-famous architect Rafael Viñoly, it was completed in 1996 and opened in 1997. The building is an immense glass edifice 207 meters long and 32 meters wide. It is eleven stories high and filled with curves, curves, and more curves. From the outside, it is very much boat-shaped. It is a fantastic place for photography.

International Forum has a nice spacey feel to it. It has eight halls, thirty-one conference rooms, a lounge, a restaurant, and a museum. Inside is an enormous lobby area that allows you to shoot up at the roof. You can get to the upper floors by taking the walkway which winds around the wall. The upper levels offer some great vantage points to shoot from too.

Tokyo International Forum ceiling

How to photograph Tokyo International Forum?

The first time I went, I wished for a wider lens. My 16-155 mm, at the wide end, was still too narrow to accommodate the entirety of the ceiling. It made me realize the value of having Fujifilm’s XF 10-24 mm F4.

ceiling structure of Tokyo International Forum

Longer lenses work there, of course. They won’t capture much of the ceiling, so use them for shooting along the length of the building. You can be creative with them.

For photographers, Tokyo International Forum is versatile. If you are into architecture, you can do that. You could spend many hours photographing the building.

different floors of Tokyo International Forum

And then there are the shadows. The building has many curves, beams and windows—lots of places for the sun to come through. And as the day progresses, the patches of dark and light will move. It is a fun place for that type of photography.

The Forum also offers chances for minimalist photography. It has so much space inside. You can use that by waiting for a single person to come along to get your photos.

Tokyo International Forum lobby area

Where is the building?

Tokyo International Forum is close to the following stations:

  • Hibiya: Chiyoda, Hibiya and Mita lines
  • Tokyo (via an underground concourse): Yamanote line and many others
  • Yurakucho: Keihin-Tohoku, Yamanote and Yurakucho lines

Here is a Google map:

Photo spots near Tokyo International Forum

Wrapping up

I enjoy photographing this building. There is a lot of natural light as Viñoly used a lot of glass in the construction. It is a gorgeous piece of architecture. Night photography there is also excellent. Those photos will be here one day! And I will do some in black and white too.

shadows and light over lobby area of Tokyo building

If you are looking for a great building to photograph, try Tokyo International Forum. It is excellent even for a place to walk around. There is a flea market outside on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of every month. Please leave your comments and questions below.

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