My style icon is Issey Miyake. I admire his distinctive but minimalist aesthetic and the way he never follows the crowd. I’m particularly impressed by the new fabrics he invents; he’s a true innovator.
The last thing I bought and loved was a Tumi suitcase for my travels. I buy practical pieces based purely on their performance. This Alpha 2 rolling suitcase is ultra-lightweight and allows me to get through airports quickly. From £387; www.tumi.com.
And the thing I’m eyeing next is a book called Who Built That? Modern Houses by Didier Cornille, which highlights some of the most important architects and houses of the 20th and 21st centuries. I teach at Kyoto University of Art and Design, and the book’s colourful drawings illustrating the construction of each building will be illuminating for my students. $16.95; www.papress.com.
The last meal that truly impressed me was at J Sheekey in London. They really know how to take advantage of natural materials – excellent cod, Atlantic prawns – and don’t smother them in rich sauces. Everything about my dinner there was wonderful: the wine list, the vibrant ambience, the knowledgeable and attentive staff and, above all, the perfectly grilled salmon. 28-32 St Martin’s Court, London WC2 (020-7240 2565; www.j-sheekey.co.uk).
The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Korean painter and sculptor Lee Ufan, whom I met recently in Paris. He’s part of a group of artists I admire called Mono-ha [School of Things], and his sculptural works made from everyday, recycled materials like paper, stone, rope and steel are simply beautiful.
The best souvenir I’ve brought home was a case of wine from Christchurch, New Zealand. I love wine – white, red, champagne – but the Cloudy Bay Chardonnay from my time spent there building the Cardboard Cathedral has become a particular favourite. www.cloudybay.co.nz.
The books on my bedside table include novels by Go Osaka, a writer who specialises in crime and spy fiction; a handful of works published by The Cooper Union that focus on architecture and global urban planning; and some of John Hejduk’s writings and drawings, which are particular favourites.
The site that inspires me is the port village of Onagawa in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan. The colours of the Pacific and the steep, verdant hills leading down to the town are beautiful.
If I didn’t live in Tokyo, the city I would live in is Paris. The area around the Marais, where I have an apartment, is full of wonderful places, including the Centre Pompidou and the shops of Les Halles. Taschen is a favourite store for books about architecture and design, and after shopping and a visit to the museum, I like to have lunch at the Pompidou’s French-fusion restaurant Georges; the view overlooking the Parisian skyline is beautiful. Centre Pompidou, Place Georges-Pompidou (+331-4478 1233; www.centrepompidou.fr). Georges, Centre Pompidou, Place Georges-Pompidou (+331-4478 4799; www.beaumarly.com). Taschen, 24 Rue de Buci (+331-4051 7922; www.taschen.com).
If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be running an NGO. I already have my own – Voluntary Architects’ Network – but I would also like to work with the United Nations Refugee Agency to help those displaced by natural disaster. Or I’d be a carpenter – I love to build with my hands, which ties nicely into architecture and design.