Chapel on Mount Rokko
1878, Nishitaniyama
Rokkosan-cho, Nada-ku
Kobe-shi 657-0101

Tadao Ando 1986

The small wedding Chapel is located high above Kobe, Japan on Mount Rokko, discretely tucked behind a non-descript adjacent hotel. Ando uses the materials of concrete, glass and light to create a powerful spiritual place through a rich spatial sequence of light and darkness, direct and indirect natural light. 

The chapel is an almost square concrete volume that is flanked by an adjoining vertical bell tower and a tunnel of translucent glass. To access the chapel one enters from a back exit of the hotel, past a small pond and into a long tunnel of frosted glass which is flooded with a milky white light.  The end of the tunnel is open with a view of nature, but no sign of a chapel.


To the right at the end of the tunnel is the entry to the chapel. One enters into a dark vestibule with a curved concrete wall that directs the visitor into the chapel, a hint of light spills from a vertical slit in the curved concrete wall demarcating the threshold between corridor and space of worship. This main concrete volume opens up with its high ceiling and side wall of natural light that is open to an exterior space bound by an exterior concrete wall. There is a boundless space between interior and exterior. While one can see into this exterior space, one cannot physically enter into it, only spiritually.

The altar space seems to be magically illuminated by light that falls from an unseen slit in the ceiling above it and by a long and skinny vertical window to the side of it. The light-bathed concrete walls change form over time, through the passage of light, constantly animating and redefining the space. The dialogue between hard, direct light from the exterior ‘room’ and the soft, abstract light creates a space that has the power to transcend and transform and then bring one back to the physical world.


Kari Silloway 2004, updated 2008  
with special thanks to Ko Teramoto

How to visit

From JR Osaka Station take JR Tokaido Line (express) to JR Rokkomichi Station (22 minutes). From the South side of this station take the free Rokkosan Oriental Hotel bus (about 30 minutes) to the Hotel. For the time schedule of the bus and a map see (in Japanese only).

For reservations to see the chapel (and for the current hotel bus schedule) telephone +81 78-891-0333 or email

The chapel is part of the Rokkosan Oriental Hotel.

Books and other web sites

Click the book title to view and to order direct from


Tadao Ando: Light and Water
Tadao Ando, Kenneth Frampton, Massimo Vignelli

Readable, beautifully presented book featuring this and other works by Tadao Ando


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