News 17-10 (No.358)
Issued : October 25, 2017
The Third Generation Nippon Seinenkan and New Japan Sport Council Headquarters Open
By Akira Ono
<< History of Nippon Seinenkan >>
When Japan's Emperor Meiji passed away in July, 1912, he was interred according to his wishes at Mt. Momoyama in Kyoto. But the times had already put Tokyo at the center of Japan's political and business world. The country's political leaders and business magnates thought that a sacred memorial to Emperor Meiji should be created in Tokyo instead of the Mt. Momoyama one in Kyoto. This thinking led to the establishment of Meiji Jingu Shrine in a part of Tokyo's Shibuya Ward. The inner gardens of Meiji Jingu Shrine were paid for using government funds and the landscapes of the outer gardens were funded by donations. As many as 110,000 young people—aged in their 20s and 30s—came from all over Japan to volunteer their labor for the project, which completed in 1925.
When the Meiji Shrine building completed, the then Crown Prince (who later became Emperor Showa) wanted to express his great pleasure by designating ¥100,000 (a large sum of money at the time) in support of the country's young adult groups. The donation became the source of funding for a building in the woodlands near the Meiji Jingu Shrine. This building was named Nippon Seinenkan (literally, "Japan Young Adult's Building"). This first young adult center spurred the building of other centers throughout Japan where young adults and youth can pursue various activities.
The construction and opening of a new, second generation Nippon Seinenkan came more than 4 decades later in February, 1979. In addition to serving as a place for various kinds of youth-oriented training and activities, the second generation Nippon Seinenkan offered accommodations for students traveling to Tokyo on school trips and a hall for popular music concerts. Holding a concert at Nippon Seinenkan became a rite of passage for Japanese pop stars. One Japanese TV variety show that had more than a 15-year run recorded segments at Nippon Seinenkan and the currently popular AKB48 and Momoiro Clover Z ("MCZ") girls' pop singing groups were among the many pop artists and groups that held their debut concerts at Nippon Seinenkan Hall. MCZ and the Takarazuka Revue extravaganza theatre troupe also used the hall as their Tokyo subscription concert venue.
For many years, the second generation Nippon Seinenkan Hall responded to the venue needs of a wide range of popular artists, performers and their fans for an easily accessible hall in central Tokyo. When plans developed to build a new national stadium for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the second generation Nippon Seinenkan Hall site became part of the stadium plan and it was decided to move and rebuild Nippon Seinenkan on an alternate site.
<< Role of the Nippon Seinenkan Foundation >>
This project's client, Nippon Seinenkan Foundation, is a Japanese non-profit organization that has multiple roles and responsibilities. It operates the hall and hotel of the third generation building and, at the same time, it works to promote and support regional seinen (young adult and youth) organizations. In the area of support to performing arts activities for young adults, the foundation conducts notable work in support of youth orchestras and forms of traditional Japanese performing arts:
< Support for Youth Orchestras >
As discussed above, Nippon Seinenkan Hall has a strong history and reputation as a venue for popular music concerts. Nippon Seinenkan Foundation also supports the All Japan High School Orchestra Federation, which counts 65 high school orchestras and string ensembles among its members. Nippon Seinenkan Foundation provides the venue and funding assistance for concerts, events and activities that encourage the musicianship of the players and ensembles and fosters exchange and interaction opportunities.
One of the annual initiatives is the All Japan High School Music Competition and Festival. This annual event is cosponsored by the Federation and Nippon Seinenkan Foundation. This year, the Festival portion of the annual event (separate from the competitions) will be performed From December 26 through December 29 at the new Nippon Seinenkan Hall.
Nippon Seinenkan Foundation also supports the Federation's All Japan High School Orchestra Summer Clinics, which offer intensive music workshops during the high school summer vacation period. In addition, the Foundation provides funding assistance to the Federation's periodically organized All Japan High School Orchestra, which brings together selected student musicians from throughout Japan. The students selected to play in this orchestra travel together as an orchestra on a European performance tour. Through this experience, the students gain the opportunity to make new friends and future colleagues through music and expand their network of connections with other young musicians.
< All Japan Minzoku Geino Taikai (Japanese Folk Art Performances Convention) >
Since its inception in 1925, the Nippon Seinenkan organization has promoted Japan's regional traditional performing arts genres, including folk art performance genres (minzoku geino). In keeping with this long-standing role of supporting these genres, Nippon Seinenkan Foundation scheduled a day of minzoku geino performances in Nippon Seinenkan Hall during the hall's inaugural year. On November 25, 2017, in cooperation with the All Japan Cities and Towns Federation for the Preservation and Promotion of Performance Folk Arts, Nippon Seinenkan Hall will be the venue for this year's All Japan Minzoku Geino Taikai.
<< Overview of The Third Generation Nippon Seinenkan Building >>
Hall Seating Viewed from the Stage
Hall Seating Viewed from Balcony
Hall Stage with Sound Reflection Panels
Side wall of Hall
For its third generation building, Nippon Seinenkan joined with the Japan Sport Council to build a structure that integrates Nippon Seinenkan with the council's headquarters. The new building completed construction in July, 2017. An official completion ceremony was held on July 18, followed by Opening Commemoration Concerts on July 22 and 23. The hall invited the general public to register for tickets and both concerts were filled with the audiences of people who responded to the public invitation.
Through a proposal process, the architectural firm of Kume Sekkei was selected to design the building. Hazama Ando Corporation served as the general contractor. Nagata Acoustics provided the full range of acoustical consulting services from acoustics design through construction management and post-completion acoustical measuring.
The new building has 2 floors below grade, 16 floors above ground and a total height of 70 m (230 ft). The new Nippon Seinenkan Hall uses the first 5 floors above ground and the Japan Sport Council has its headquarters in offices on floors 6 through 9. Above the Japan Sport Council headquarters—on floors 10 through 16, Nippon Seinenkan Hotel has 220 guest rooms, restaurants and a banquet hall.
The design of the building's various functionalities and infrastructure clearly separates them by floor and ensures they can be operated independently by the separate entities in the building. The programming for the new hall anticipated that the new Nippon Seinenkan Hall will be used as a live venue for popular music.
<< Tokyo's Needs for Popular Halls and Theatres >>
Recent years have seen numerous changes in Tokyo's ability to provide live performance spaces for popular music. Two mid-size venues, Gotanda U-Port and Tokyo Kosei Nenkin Kaikan Hall, in Shinjuku, both permanently closed. Two other mid-size venues are either temporarily closed or will be closed for renovations in the future. These are Shibuya Public Hall—temporarily closed while it is being rebuilt together with the Shibuya Ward administrative building—and Nakano's Sun Plaza Hall, which is part of a structure showing many signs of wear and tear that have led to plans to replace it. Last year, Japan's newspapers called the disappearance of so many popular entertainment halls and theatres "the 2016 problem".
In October, 2016, when the Institute for Urban Strategies of the Mori Memorial Foundation (MMF) published its Global Power City Index (GPCI) ranking the world's major cities, Tokyo surpassed Paris to achieve the third highest overall ranking. However, in the category of "Cultural Interaction", Tokyo placed fifth after London, New York, Paris and Singapore. London earned first place in both the categories of "Cultural Interaction" and "Transportation and Accessibility". I would suggest that part of why London achieved first place is because of the improvements the city implemented for the London Olympics.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has already quickly responded to the so-called "2016 problem" by conducting surveys and other research targeting performing arts groups and their hall and theatre venue needs. The goal is to create an environment that will revitalize the city's arts and cultural scene before the year 2020 arrives.
Given the situation in Tokyo for popular entertainment halls and theatres, and Nippon Seinenkan's successful completion of its third generation building at this early timing—in advance of other venues—I and others in Tokyo look forward to Nippon Seinenkan pursuing a flexible and cooperative approach to its operations while Metropolitan Tokyo works on increasing the options for mid-size popular genre concerts.
The Nippon Seinenkan website URL is http://www.nippon-seinenkan.or.jp/en/.
Royal Symphony Building: a new concert hall in Bangkok
By Marc Quiquerez
<< A new hall to call home >>
Founded in 1982, Bangkok Symphony Orchestra is the oldest orchestra in Thailand and its most prestigious. Just a year ago, it was granted the Royal permission to be renamed "Royal Bangkok Symphony Orchestra" or "RBSO". The orchestra performs both internationally, as a Cultural Ambassador to the country, and locally, and has brought many renowned artists to perform in Bangkok.
Though the orchestra does not have a hall to call home, Thailand Cultural Center is among its most regular performance venues in Bangkok. It was inaugurated in 1987 and was Nagata Acoustics' project in Thailand.
Today, 30 years later, Nagata Acoustics is engaged as acoustical consultant in a new concert hall project in Bangkok, which is meant to become RBSO residence.
<< The project >>
Overlooking Lumphini Park, and a stone's throw away from the American Embassy compound, the concert hall will be the beating heart of Royal Symphony Building, 22-story tower built on the site of the now-dismantled Kian Gwan House. The new building, funded by Kian Gwan Thailand, will also comprise music and art shops on the lower levels and offices above and below the hall. Directly above the concert hall, an entire floor of the building will be dedicated to the orchestra management and Bangkok Symphony Music School, founded in 1996 to nurture musical talents in Thailand.
Interior of Concert Hall
The main design challenge of the project is to create a world class concert hall with a full-size orchestra stage, but for a relatively modest seating capacity of 650, and within the constraints of a narrow site (25 m, or 82 ft) and a high rise building. The stage occupies the entire width of the hall, and the conductor is placed at the very center, with audience both in front and behind the stage. Overhanging the stage and audience left and right, a narrow balcony links front and back and wraps the audience all around the musicians.
<< The team and project status >>
Local firm Plan Architect was appointed as design architects. French firm The Space Factory (based in Lyon) is in charge of theater planning and consulting.
Design is currently on going, with Schematic Design phase just completed. Construction expected to begin in mid-2018, for a completion and opening in late 2020.
Nagata Acoustics Inc.
Hongo Segawa Bldg. 3F, 2-35-10 Hongo
Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0033, Japan
Tel: +81-3-5800-2671, Fax: +81-3-5800-2672
1990 S. Bundy Drive, Suite 795
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Tel: +1-310-231-7878, Fax: +1-310-231-7816
75, avenue Parmentier
Tel: +33 (0)1 40 21 44 25, Fax: +33 (0)1 40 21 24 00