Your Guide to 99 Inspired Art and Design Locations Throughout Japan. Make the 100th Your Own!

Surround Yourself in the Warmth of Wood and Words at “The Book Colosseum”

The Nakajima Library

Located on the Japan Sea in the country’s northern Tohoku region, Akita City’s International University boasts an incredibly beautiful library on its campus. The Nakajima Library – known as “The Book Colosseum” – is an architectural wonder crafted almost entirely from the cedar trees of Akita Prefecture. One of the library’s most striking features is its semicircular ceiling, which resembles an open parasol. Visitors can bask in the warmth of the library’s thousands of volumes and the impressive wooden surroundings.

Although the library is a university study facility, overseas visitors are welcome to enter and view the surroundings free of charge. Of the 80,000 volumes in the library’s collection, approximately 60% are in English and other foreign languages, offering plenty of reading material for travelers.

Exterior of the Nakajima Library
Bibliotheca -4K- Akita International University

Akita International University Bibliotheca Nakajima Library

[Getting There]
By plane: A one-hour flight from Haneda Airport to Akita Airport, then a 10-minute drive.
By train: Approximately four hours by bullet train from JR Tokyo station to JR Akita station. Take the JR Ou Main Line 12 minutes to JR Wada station, followed by a 15-minute bus ride.

Library Hours: Weekdays 9:00-22:00.
Saturdays, Sundays, National Holidays and Holiday Periods: 9:45-18:00

Get Right Up Close to Art in the Great Outdoors

Jonathan Borofsky Male Female

With an average year-round temperature of 17°C(62.6°F), the mild environs of Kagoshima Prefecture are the perfect place to enjoy art outdoors. The Kirishima Open-air Museum features works by internationally-recognized artists such as Yayoi Kusama. Take a stroll around the main square, or in the forest setting, to enjoy approximately 23 works dotted throughout the grounds. You can take selfies, touch, and even sit on, many of the pieces. Kirishima Open-Air Museum makes for perfect content to share on Instagram or other SNS.

Yayoi Kusama  High Heel

The Kirishima Open-Air Museum

[Getting There]
An approximately 110-minute flight from Haneda Airport to Kagoshima Airport. Take the Nangoku-Koutsu Okuchi/Minamata Line bus approximately 30 minutes to Iki-Iki Center/Kurino Sato, then the Yusui-machi Furusato Bus approximately 20 minutes.

Museum Hours: 9:00-17:00 (entrance until 16:30). From July 20th to August 31 open until 19:00 (entrance until 18:30) on Saturdays, Sundays and national holidays.

Closed Periods: Mondays (if the Monday falls on a national holiday, closed next day), December 29th to January 2nd, from the third Monday through the fourth Monday of February.

Aside from the above two locations, the guide covers a wealth of places to enjoy art and design, spanning hotels, cafés, shops, and even the interior of a bullet train. You can peruse all of the locations on the “99+1 JAPAN: Traveling Through Art, Design & Architecture” website, and even download an edition of the book to enjoy offline. As you traverse Japan and explore the list, add your personal “+1” to make the journey complete!