By Sherilyn Siy
Completed in 2013, the Hanno Library is an architectural phenomenon. Historically, the city was renowned for its lumber industry. Today, Hanno prides itself for quality wood craft, and their wood working skill is magnificently displayed in the library's interior. The facade is no less impressive, with the entire building covered in clear glass, allowing you to see the inside even as you drive by.
As you step into the library, the first thing that will strike you is the high ceiling, giving patrons a sense of expansiveness. There are two floors to the library but most of the first floor occupies the two floors in a high ceiling space while only a small section is reserved for the second floor. Floor to ceiling glass panels allow maximum natural light into the library, making it the ideal place to be even on a gloomy or cloudy sort of day.
The second thing that will strike you is the generous use of wood: from the floors, to the huge beams that branch out and support the ceiling, looking very much like tree trunks, to the shelves, study desks, and frames. Wood spells warmth and it is exactly the kind of warmth that invites you to slow down, pick up a book and relax for a while. Couches are intentionally set up facing out into a zen like rock garden and manicured lawns, perfect for a quiet and thoughtful time alone. There are numerous corners for private study, some sectioned off with traditional Japanese shoji (paper screen doors).
Although Hanno boasts of a dedicated Children's Library about a 20 minute walk away, the main library has a pretty impressive collection of children's books. Parents and children alike are drawn to the shoes-off section adorned with stuffed characters from popular children's books.
The Hanno Library is wheelchair accessible and elderly friendly. Wheeled cloth baskets are available to make it easy to bring your books around.
The easiest and most convenient way to get to the Hanno Library is by private car. If opting for public transportation, take the Seibu Chichibu line and get off at Koma Station. At the station, take the bus heading to Hanno station and get off at the bus stop called Tenranzan Iriguchi (天覧山入口). The library is a 3-minute walk from the bus stop.
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For Sherilyn Siy, Asia is home. Born in Hong Kong, Sherilyn spent time in the Philippines, China, and now lives in Japan. She speaks English, Filipino, Chinese (or putonghua), and Hokkien, her family's local dialect. Running is one of her favorite ways to explore Japan. She proudly finished the 2015 Tokyo Marathon -- her first ever full marathon -- in 4 hours and 37 minutes. She was absolutely psyched when she got selected again to run the new Tokyo Marathon route in 2018. She hopes to complete other races in Japan.