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added on : September 25, 2023

Tokyo is scattered with many thoughtfully-designed libraries. These places offer not just free access to literature, but also provide a space to relax, connect with the community, and gain inspiration from the unique architecture. Each of these libraries has its own unique features, from the biographical archives of a famous author to a broad communal space in a park.

Tama City Central Library: A Dynamic Library Located in a Park

Tama City Central Library is a versatile space seamlessly integrated with a nearby park. It is located in Tama, in the western half of the Tokyo metropolitan area. Around the nearby Tama-Center Station, there are many large department stores and green spaces. The library is actually located in Tama Central Park, allowing visitors to drift between the park and the library. Follow Brick Slope to the front entrance, which continues inside the library. You are greeted by Step Plaza, a large staircase where you can sit down and read. This stairway serves as a transition between the two main floors. The library is modeled after the worlds under-ground and above-ground in a forest. The first floor is a space for quiet reading. Tall bookshelves and low ceilings bring you in close contact with the books, and brown accents evoke an underground cave.
The second floor is a space for connection. Low bookshelves and high ceilings open the library to the space outside, and tree-shaped pillars evoke a forest. Visitors are encouraged to talk and mingle. The building is curved following the lines created by the park’s paths, allowing it to fit snuggly with the rest of the park. There is a café on the second floor with a terrace overlooking a large pond to the east. The area surrounding said pond is officially called Book Park, and visitors are encouraged to read on the rolling lawn after checking out. *Book Park's construction is expected to be completed by mid-October 2023.

The Waseda International House of Literature (The Haruki Murakami Library): A Library Named After the Author

The Waseda International House of Literature (also known as the Haruki Murakami Library) is a library named after to Haruki Murakami in the prestigious Waseda University where he spent his young adult years. The white exterior is accented by whimsical wooden arches, a strangeness to rival Murakami’s Kafkaesque works. The interior includes tall wooden arches surrounding a long staircase. This is the characteristic style of Kengo Kuma, one of Japan’s premiere architects who creatively uses wood to accent the interior of buildings. The library has a nearly complete collection of Murakami’s works, in Japanese and translated into more than 50 languages. There are also various spaces inspired by his well-documented lifestyle, including an audio room paying homage to his avid love for music. Here you can find many of his favorites including jazz groups like Pres and Teddy. Finally, there is a re-creation of Murakami’s studio. The furniture and decorations have been individually selected to represent those in his personal study.

Hon no Mori Chuo Library: A Stunning Library that Calls Back to Nature

Hon no Mori Chuo Library is a complex in the heart of Tokyo with roots in nature and history. The striking exterior has staggered floors and a branching glass atrium. These features set it apart from the surrounding buildings. Upon walking inside, the first thing you’ll notice is the unique ceiling lighting. The polygonal web of lines and dots is what mathematicians call a Voronoi diagram. A Voronoi diagram is a naturally-occurring pattern found for example in the veins of leaves. Here it reinforces the underlying theme of the library, a large forest where the first floor represents the ground and the top floor represents the canopy. The complex includes two facilities: the Chuo City Folk Museum and the Chuo City Kyohashi Library—a library with 111 years of history at the time of renovation. The Kyohashi Library has been around since 1911 and has seen multiple interactions. It currently comprises the third, fourth, and fifth floors of Hon no Mori Chuo Library. You can check out a wide range of books using modern technology, and once registered visitors can borrow books with an IC Card used for public transit like Suica. There’s a café on the first floor offering food and drinks if you’re staying a while, and an observation deck on the roof where you can enjoy the inner-city sights.

Tama City Central Library

Address 2-35 Ochiai, Tama City, Tokyo
URL Tama City Central Library (JPN)

The Waseda International House of Literature (The Haruki Murakami Library)

Address 1-6-1 Nishiwaseda, Shinjuku City, Tokyo
URL The Waseda International House of Literature (The Haruki Murakami Library)

Hon no Mori Chuo Library

Address 1-13-14 Shintomi, Chuo City, Tokyo
URL Hon no Mori Chuo Library (JPN)

For up-to-date information on opening hours and further details please check the official websites.

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