KOBE – Kobe Children’s Book Forest, a library built by world-renowned architect Tadao Ando that doesn’t lend out books but instead lets kids read them in the local park, delights kids with its many titles in addition to story readings and other events.
The library opened in March in Chuo District, Hyogo Prefecture, Kobe City. On a recent visit, children, overwhelmed by the tall shelving that lined the walls with some 18,000 books, could be heard shouting “So many books!” and “Great!”
The facility was donated to the city by Ando. It is located in Kobe East Park, which has a memorial commemorating the victims of the 1995 Great Hanshin earthquake and rebuilding the area, and the library has a section for books on the disaster.
Unlike ordinary libraries, the Book Forest doesn’t let people take the books home, but visitors are free to take them out and read them in the park. Instead of genres, books are categorized by themes such as “Forest of Life” and “Forest Beyond the Sea” to give children the opportunity to be interested in different books.
A fairy tale hour, where children are read to picture books, and a string quartet concert took place at the end of April. Hana Orui, 7, a second grader at an elementary school, visited the facility with her mother and younger sister from the neighboring city of Nishinomiya and said with a smile, “I enjoyed being surrounded by the many picture books and being able to listen from the front row .”
Konomi Nakatsuka, 31, who is in charge of public relations at the facility, commented, “We hope every child will find a book they really like.”
The book forest is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Reservation is currently required to prevent the spread of coronavirus infections. The facility has four time slots of 90 minutes each and reservations are limited to one time slot per day. For detailed information, please visit the facility’s website: https://kodomohonnomori-kobe.jp/reservation
(Japanese original by Maiko Umeda, Osaka Photo Department)