Inside Tomoyuki Tanaka’s X-Ray Illustrations of Tokyo Train Stations

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Inside Tomoyuki Tanaka’s X-Ray Illustrations of Tokyo Train Stations
Tokyo Station / © Tomoyuki Tanaka
Inside Tomoyuki Tanaka’s X-Ray Illustrations of Tokyo Train Stations
Tokyo Station / © Tomoyuki Tanaka

Tomoyuki Tanaka can see through walls. Known for meticulous, hand-drawn ballpoint renderings of the innards of everything from furniture to museums, the Japanese architect’s most elaborate works are studies of Tokyo’s sprawling train stations. Tanaka’s unpeeling of the underground labyrinths of Tokyo Station, Shibuya Station, and Shinjuku Station (one of the world’s biggest, and busiest, transport hubs) are like MRIs of some of the most amazing infrastructure on Earth.

What’s impressive about Tanaka’s station studies, apart from their intricacy, is how quickly he creates them. “It takes about a week to research and organize the information,” he says via email, “and another week to draw.” He drafts in pencil—“I don’t usually model on a computer before drawing,” he says, “because there is no need”—then finishes in pen, paying close attention to space, composition, and scale. (Yes, the plans are accurate.) “I want to show the relations between the internal and external spaces of the station,” Tanaka says. […]

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