Vintage Photos 3 – The Completed Nakagin Capsule Tower

A selection of photographs taken after completion of the Nakagin Capsule Tower, but before the white tile cladding was added to the lower floors of the building. Some are very similar, showing different resolutions and crops.

Shortly after completion, all of the window blinds are at “0630” indicating that there are not yet any residents. The three trees at the front of the capsule tower have been planted, and work is going on constructing the stairway down to Shiodome parking.

Photographer unknown. Source

A higher resolution, tighter crop of the last image. It took me a long time to notice, but both of these images have been altered to remove half of the Dai-Ichi Hotel building in the background – no doubt so as not to distract from the profile of the Capsule Tower.

Photographer unknown. Source @arsin_et_bieuville.

Finally arrived at the full image? From the lorry position this is the same photo. The previous two seem to have lost the TV antennas from the top of the towers.

Photographer unknown. Source KULTERMANN 1976

A similar long lens shot, slightly different road traffic to those above.

Photographer unknown. Source unknown.

A wider, colour view taken from the same place as the last image.

Photographer unknown. Source LEPIK 2004.

A classic Nakagin Capsule Tower photo by Tomio Ohashi taken from the top of a nearby building.

Photographer ©Tomio Ohashi. Source

Detail from the last photo showing reflections of the capsule windows on the road.

Photographer ©Tomio Ohashi. Source

Another classic Tomio Ohashi photograph.

Photographer ©Tomio Ohashi. Source

A higher resolution, tighter crop of the last image.

Photographer ©Tomio Ohashi. Source

Taken at a slightly different time and position compared to the previous two images, the shadows having shifted.

Photographer (assumed) ©Tomio Ohashi. Source

Window blind positions indicate that the Capsule Tower is now occupied. Work on the Shiodome parking stairwell has completed. The design of the stairwell has been upgraded since then – the original lacks the side windows.

Photographer unknown. Source

A few changes to the window blinds in this image, with some missing or broken.

Photographer unknown. Source

The show capsule has been installed outside the building, along with the planters.

Photographer ©John Gollings. Source
Photographer ©M Leigheb. Source RAEBURN 1984

A small, low resolution version of the above, with the wider view showing the demo capsule in place.

Photographer ©M Leigheb. Source

A screen capture showing architect Kisho Kurokawa san with the Capsule Tower in the background. The expressway toll gate has been constructed.

Source unknown

Here the Dai-Ichi Hotel still stands, and the red brick, balconied building to the north of the Capsule Tower has been built.

Photographer ©Bill Tingey Source

I have no date for this image, but it is definitely later than the last by the appearance of the neighbouring building just visible on the left. In attempting to place the images in time order I have noticed that the state of the window blinds provides a sort of clock. Capsule by capsule they move from fully intact, through a centre hub missing its paper screen, to a bare pane. Sometimes the window changes to something else entirely. Occasionally restoration and repair turn back the clock. Perhaps one day I will calibrate it, so that at least these points in Platonia may be ordered.

Photographer ©Heinrich Klotz. Digitised by Julia Brandes. Source via

This photo is from no later than 1976, here we see some of the first hints of entropy affecting the Capsule Tower. The delicate window blinds in some of the capsules, have either broken or been removed – including the central ‘hub’ in some cases. A few of the residents have put up conventional curtains.

Photographer ©Harald Sund. Source FOSCO 1976

Another undated photograph. Water and dirt streaks on the capsules and the disposition of neighbouring buildings places this fairly early on.

Photograph ©Javier Vives Rego CC BY-SA 4.0.
Photograph ©Javier Vives Rego CC BY-SA 4.0.


  1. FORSTER 2006 “Housing in the 20th and 21st Centuries“, Wolfgang Förster, April 2006, ISBN 978-3791335292
  2. LEPIK 2004 “Skyscrapers“, Andres Lepik, August 2004, ISBN 978-3791331553
  3. KULTERMANN 1976 “New Architecture in the World“, Udo Kultermann, October 1976, ISBN 978-0214202414
  4. ARIEFF 2002 “Prefab“, Allison Arieff, Bryan Burkhart, May 2002, ISBN 978-1586851323
  5. RAEBURN 1984 “Architecture of the Western World“, Michael Raeburn, August 1984, ISBN 978-0517445136
  6. FOSCO 1976 “Tokyo (The Great cities)“, Fosco Maraini, Harald Sund, January 1976

All images copyright as per indicated photographer and source.