10 Incredible Japanese Houses

Brutalist concrete structures, winding vertical mazes and steel facades – anything goes in Japan

  • Written by Samira Larouci

March 7, 2017

“In a country where architectural design has become a free-for-all, where anything goes, the increasing number of architect designed houses have become synonymous with unconventionality in Japan” writes Naomi Pollock, author of Jutaku: Japanese Houses – a new case study of 411 of Japan’s most incredible modernist houses.

Western logic and hierarchy of floor plans are thrown out the proverbial window in favour of brutalist concrete structures, winding vertical mazes and steel facades. And although the majority of the nation’s population live in Tokyo, Osaka and a few more cities on the main island of Honshu, flat land has become a precious commodity. How about living next to a cemetery or a train line? Well, unsurprisingly it’s much cheaper, leaving you with some major spare change to hire an architect and build that dream house.

In densely populated areas, space efficient narrow houses are key, yet what they lack in width they make up with in height. Buildings stretch towards the sky like a vertical corridor; stairs interlink rooms leading up to what is quite often the house’s only outdoor space ­– a roof terrace. In Japan, the square footage of your house doesn’t mean anything – it’s all about who built it. From Tokyo to Fukuoka, we’ve selected 10 of our favourite houses.


KHT House IRA, Kahoku, Yamagata Prefecture


House Snapped, Naf Architect, Saitama, Saitama Prefecture


Villa SSK, Takeshi Hirobe, Minami Bouso, Chiba Prefecture


Lotus House, Kengo Kuma, Kanagawa Prefecture


House NA, Sou Fujimoto, Tokyo Prefecture


S – House, Yuusuke Karasawa, Oomiya, Saitama Prefecture


Nasu Tepee, NAP, Nasu, Tochigi Prefecture


Zinc House, Terunobu Fujimori, Kokubunji, Tokyo Prefecture


Crescent House, Shigeru Ban, Takata, Shizuoka Prefecture


Juul House, NKS Architects, Yukuhashi, Fukuoka Prefecture

‘Jutaku: Japanese Houses’, by Naomi Pollock is published by Phaidon

Marc Newson’s eulogy to Tokyo’s iconic Hotel Okura
‘We Need to Talk About Space’
’10 Incredible Modernist Holiday Homes’


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