kengo kuma revives traditional craft and materials


The Wakuni Shoten café is set to open in In the heart of Higashimurayama City, Tokyo with architecture by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. Recognized at once by its textural, patterned facade, the project expresses a contemporary reading of tradition. Its materials have been repurposed from a Shinto shrine, and have been reassembled with influence from the art of origami. Thus, the project is more than a café, but a celebration of community, sustainability, and the enduring spirit of Japanese craftsmanship. With its architecture now complete, the Wakuni Shoten café will open in January 2024.

kengo kuma wakuni shotenimages courtesy Kengo Kuma & Associates



learning from the heritage of tokyo


The Wakuni Shoten café is the result of a collaboration between Kengo Kuma & Associates, Okaniwa Construction Co., and Tomokazu Uchino, head of Uchino Sheet Metal. The space was born from a deep love for Uchino’s childhood home, the Aoba shopping district. Witnessing the district’s gradual decline, the team sought to breathe new life into the area while celebrating its rich heritage. The collaboration with Kengo Kuma and his design team proved to be the perfect marriage of vision and expertise, as the Japanese architect is known for his work with salvaged materials.kengo kuma reuses shinto shrine materials for origami facade of tokyo café



the folded facade in green and blue


The defining feature of Kengo Kuma’s Wakuni Shoten café is undoubtedly its exterior, a patterned composition of seven hundred patinated bronze plates each sourced from the roof of Hayatani Shrine in Hiroshima Prefecture. Rather than discarding these disused plates, Tomokazu Uchino and his team of skilled craftsmen painstakingly reshaped and repurposed them, imbuing them with a new lease on life. The result is a mesmerizing facade that shimmers with a spectrum of greens and blues.

kengo kuma wakuni shoten



The café’s interior walls are finished in a stark black plaster, serving as a backdrop for brass accents, including lampshades, sinks, baseboards, and kitchen elements. Even the outdoor chairs, designed by Kengo Kuma and crafted from salvaged seats of the former National Stadium, echo this theme of reuse. Sustainability is woven into the very fabric of the project. The decision to reuse the cafe’s original 52-year-old framework honors the past while minimizing environmental impact. By reinforcing the foundation and strategically integrating new wood, the team has revived the derelict structure, demonstrating a respect for both the environment and the district’s history.

kengo kuma wakuni shoten



project info:


project title: Wakuni Shoten Café | @wakuni_cafe

location: Aoba Shopping District, Higashimurayama City, Tokyo, Japan

architecture: Kengo Kuma | @kkaa_official

materials collaborator: Tomokazu Uchino | @tomokazu_uchino, @uchinobankin

design, construction: Okaniwa Construction Co. | @okaniwastyle

client: Wakuni Shoten | @wakunishoten

opening: January 2024