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Modernized historical Tokyo library opens new chapter to share nostalgic beauty

Fukagawa Library is enveloped in silence after sunset in this photo taken in Tokyo's Koto Ward on June 10, 2020. (Mainichi/Akihiro Ogomori)
A spiral staircase that emanates the warmth of wood is seen at Fukagawa Library, a municipal library in the capital's Koto Ward, on June 8, 2020. (Mainichi/Akihiro Ogomori)
A lamp reflects pretty patterns on the walls of the spiral stairwell of Fukagawa Library in Tokyo's Koto Ward on June 8, 2020. (Mainichi/Akihiro Ogomori)

TOKYO -- The sound of tree leaves swaying in the wind could be heard from the entrance of Fukagawa Library located besides Kiyosumi Garden in the capital's Koto Ward. The surroundings of the building enveloped in darkness after sundown were illuminated as light shone from the front door.

The ward-run library was opened in 1909, or year 42 of the Meiji era, as a city library of Tokyo, according to a publication recording its 100-year history. Although the building was completely destroyed in a fire during the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake, it was rebuilt five years later in the third year of the Showa era.

The new building also suffered calamities in the air raids of 1945. Fortunately, the library was able to avoid being burned down. Those who visited Fukagawa Library loved the establishment for its high ceilings and grand interior design. After 60 years passed since the building's establishment, it was decided to renovate the facility due to problems with its earthquake resistance and a lack of a barrier-free design, among other issues. The third and current version of the library building opened in 1993.

The modernized facility surrounded in dark greenery has kept the appearance of its predecessors. The spiral stairwell continues for 60 steps up to the third floor, while one can feel the warmth of the wood. Granite stone is used for the outer walls of the building, emanating its profound weight. Despite its modified appearance, the library, which is a vital part of the local community's lives, records and engraves moments of history.

(Japanese original by Akihiro Ogomori, Photo Group)

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