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Library Passport: A Subterranean Library in Japan Wows

underground library in Kurkku Gardens

In the new monthly feature, Library Passport, I Love Libraries will satisfy its neverending wanderlust by highlighting exceptional libraries from around the world. Grab your passport and join us!

A new library in Japan that opened in February invites bookworms to venture underground for a unique reading experience. And it’s a serene beauty.

Designed by Hiroshi Nakamura and NAP Architects, the Underground Library rests beneath a grassy knoll in Kurkku Fields, a 74-acre sustainable farm in Chiba, and was designed to offer guests a reflective reading experience in a peaceful, warm, natural space.

“The Underground Library lies like a cave, quietly hidden under the soil overgrown with trees and flowers,” Kurkku Fields said. “Just as plants and vegetables grow in symbiosis with microorganisms in the soil, we burrow into the ground, encounter books, accumulate knowledge, and cultivate the power of imagination.”

The library’s design is a perfect melding of nature and whimsy. Its entryway emerges from the ground, allowing visitors to stumble upon the library while exploring the Kurkku Fields grounds. Upon entering, guests pass through twisting walkways filled with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, seating spots, and reading nooks. At the heart of the library lies a circular room with a timber ceiling comprised of beams that twist into each other towards a skylight.

At the time of its opening, the library had about 3,000 books on topics ranging from nature and agriculture to poetry, philosophy, history, religion, science, and economics. We can’t wait to pay it a visit!

underground library in Kurkku Gardens underground library in Kurkku Gardens underground library in Kurkku Gardens underground library in Kurkku Gardens

If you’d like to learn more about libraries from around the world, look no further than the American Library Association’s (ALA) International Relations Office. The office’s mission is to increase ALA’s presence in the global library community and promote a greater understanding of international librarianship and international library issues, among other things. The office does a lot of cool stuff, like the Sister Library program, which helps U.S. libraries set up partnerships with libraries abroad. Check it out!

Photos courtesy of Kurkku Fields and Hiroshi Nakamura and NAP; by Kohei Omachi and Yuka Yanazume.

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