5 Uniquely Crafted Homes You Can Only See in Japan

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Dennis Nottingham
December 14, 2021
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In the housing world, Japan is known for its unique, minimalistic and efficient designs. This even extends to food packaging, as Japan seeks to form a society rooted in efficiency. In this article, we are bringing you 5 homes in the country of Japan to appreciate it’s stunningly simple and logistical designs.

1. The Origami House

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The Origami house, the name deriving from its paper folded-like roof, was modeled from origami shapes. This two-story home was designed by TSC Architects’ principal Yoshiaki Tanaka. It is located in Mie prefecture in a village surrounded by cativating mountains. The unique home is framed by its angular roof and it is folded in five places to create the look of various triangular faces. The roof touches the ground at various points around the perimeter of the home, which mimics the shape of an envelope enclosing the center of the building. The home is 1,206 square feet and was built for a couple on a site that has been in the family for several generations. The grandparents’ house can be found on the next plot. A stone wall built by the grandfather can be found encircling the building site.

2. The M House

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The M House can be found in one of Nagoya's more attractive residential neighborhoods. It only has 2.5 meters of dead end street access and is set on a difficult site that steps down from this access level a total of 7 meters. The  M-House is design is so unique because it addresses the site conditions that made the land "unbuildable" for a home by the local real estate community and allows for a simple, contemporary lifestyle for the American owner/architect and his family. Along with the challenges the site provided for builders and designers, the house itself also proves to serve a few logistical challenges in planning for a multi generational/multi national family, also including challenges for preserving and securing precious views outside the home, sunlight, and breezes in the context of a traditional tight in space Japanese neighborhood. Despite the difficulty in accessing and building on the land, it was the property's one most valued feature - its location at the edge of a cliff that towers over the northern part of Nagoya - that inspired the design of the house.

3. The Translucent Home

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Suppose Design Office, a Japanese architecture firm, created this unique and modern in year x. This house is the essence of luminous, its translucent walls allowing light pass in and out. It is located in a quiet residential alcove of Hiroshima. It’s shape is a long, sleek and lean site that and is home to a family with three children; this home is a lovely combination of playful, yet sophisticated and minimalistic, and tranquil. Despite the semi-transparency of its exterior, the interior remains hidden, allowing residents to have total privacy with an abundance of natural light. During the day, this unique home glows from outside in, and by night, it emits a stunning soft glow from inside out. The Transparent house stands out well  from its more traditionally typical neighbors. The interior is open, favoring the openness of the design of the exterior, and is spacious, bright and open. The home incorporates a steel tile ceiling and walls that wrap around the living area to give the home an industrial aesthetic, and is warmed up by the natural wood floors underfoot. An absolute stunner!

4. The Muko House

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Our next home on the list is a showstopper! This  home in Muko is a one of a kind design crafted by Fujiwara room Architects in Japan. The home only consists of a single room floor plan with the master bedroom and stairwell at the back of the fan shaped space. The stairwell guides residents and guests up to two children’s bedrooms and the bath, and follows an open concept. The face of this unique home is wrapped in glass and tall vertical louver slabs, inviting light in and out of the home. When the louvered slabs meet the sides of the home they transform into the side for a clean transition from exposed façade to closed and private walls – with the exception of the entry door that beckons people inward. Trees are lined in front of the home and radiate a beautiful contrast that aligns with the precise lines of the home. Inside the Muko house, the energy changes from geometric lines to fluid and softer shapes full of movement. For example the egg shaped swing seat that sways gracefully when touched and the curvaceous couch with soft lines. With these curves, the sunlight creates stunning staggered and rectangular light spots with curved ends as the sun's rays pass the louvers and meet against the furnishings within.

5. The Wood and Glass House

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Sitting next to Tokyo Bay, this unique and picturesque home  played a huge role in the inspiration behind the design of Villa SSK. On the other side of this home residents and guest will find majestic mountains that rise into the borderless sky. According to the architects, “Architecture ought to be rooted in the place it occupies. The architectural form of this building somehow emerged during the long process of analyzing and studying the location. Although the design process was supposed to have entailed a frantic accumulation of decision-making and choosing between possible options, the finished building gives one the strange, lingering impression of having been constructed according to some law or other.” The slightly skewed pentagonal shape of this unique home is complemented by the front and rear glass walls. When life is illuminated from within, the house stands out beautifully at night. Inside, the structure follows a tunnel-like layout, with almost zero right angled walls. The space is very open, as the homeowner craved a large living, dining and kitchen area, a guest room, and a spare room to simply display his car.

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