There’s something hiding at the heart of this Kindergarten in Japan: the wood. It doesn’t look like it’s hiding, because the buildings are nothing if all wood, detailed together with joinery finery. What’s more hidden is that all the wood comes from trees that were killed in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and, even more at their heart, is that each of these trees were also planted after a tsunami in 1611, a round 400 years prior. From one tsunami to the next, the trees remain to provide shelter in the community.
Even beyond this remarkable history, there’s much to like about the building. Built onto the side of a hill, it manages to evoke both traditional Japanese woodwork while also channeling Smokey the Bear-type North American national forest pavilions. And, not unintended I’m sure, a treehouse, all the more perfect for its young inhabitants.
Inside the wood continues to take centre stage, from floor to furniture to wall to ceiling, the latter of which is cast aglow by windows that reach up deep between the roof beams. Odd as it may seem, the bare bulbs that hang to provide artificial light feels nice, the pinpoints of light creating another plane overhead. (I do hope those are LEDs…)