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Beautiful Libraries in Japan

Gorgeous spaces for literary lovers

In our hectic, fast-paced world, libraries are still places of tranquility and relaxation for many. A number of libraries across the globe are also beautifully designed, and Japan is no exception to this. If you're after some aesthetically pleasing libraries to explore, this guide covers five of them.

Minna no Mori Gifu Media Cosmos, Gifu

Designed by well-known architect Toyo Ito, the Minna no Mori Gifu Media Cosmos was opened in 2015 and serves as a multi-purpose venue with conference rooms, studios, and exhibition areas in addition to the library space. A number of umbrella-shaped canopies are hung from the uniquely designed wooden ceiling, which were intended to help visitors be drawn to the bookshelves in such a large open area.

40-5 Tsukasamachi, Gifu, 500-8076

Photo: Asturio Cantabrio / CC BY-SA 4.0

Nakajima Library, Akita

Located at Akita International University, the Nakajima Library is open 24/7/365 for students and was designed with the theme of a Book Coliseum in mind. Cedar sourced from within the prefecture was used in the library's construction, and the venue has won a number of awards including the Murano Togo Prize, the JIA Award, and the Good Design Award among others.

Okutsubakidai-193-2 Yuwatsubakigawa, Akita, 010-1211

Kadokawa Culture Museum, Saitama

The Kadokawa Culture Museum building is another design from renowned architect Kengo Kuma, and this venue also serves multiple purposes. Inside, you'll find an anime museum, galleries, eateries, and more, but one of the most Instagrammable highlights is the bookshelf theater on the fourth floor. It has become a hit on social media because of its floor-to-ceiling book displays, which have quickly become a favorite for budding photographers.

3 Chome-31-3 Higashitokorozawawada, Tokorozawa, Saitama 359-0023

Photo: Kadokawa Co. Ltd

Toyo Bunko, Tokyo

The Toyo Bunko is also known as the Oriental Library, and it holds the title of being Japan's largest Asian studies library. The venue is home to almost a million different books, including a number of National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties in that mix. You can experience the library for yourself in the YouTube video below, but it's a must for either design or history lovers.

2 Chome-28-21 Honkomagome, Bunkyo City, Tokyo 113-0021

Kanazawa Umimirai Library, Ishikawa

Completed in 2011, the Kanazawa Umimirai Library is the work of Japanese architects Kazumi Kudo and Hiroshi Horiba. The venue has won a number of awards for its unique contemporary design, which often gets likened to a cake box when viewed from the outside. Along with the various design awards the library has received, it also featured on a list of 20 stunning libraries across the world from Fodor's Travel.

I-1-1 Jichumachi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-0341

Kanazawa Umimirai Library
Kanazawa Umimirai Library (Photo: YELLOW Mao Photography / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
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Join the discussion

Sleiman Azizi a year ago
Wow... seriously.
Sleiman Azizi a year ago
Right? They really are amazing. I think back to my first foray into a library and, well, they certainly have come a long way.
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