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'Book Forest' built in Kobe by architect Tadao Ando delights children with 18,000 titles

Walls of books donated by citizens are seen at Kobe Children's Book Forest in Kobe's Chuo Ward on April 24, 2022. (Mainichi/Maiko Umeda)=Click/tap photo for more images.

KOBE -- "Kobe Children's Book Forest," a library built by world-renowned architect Tadao Ando that does not lend books but instead lets children read them in the local park, has been delighting children with its many titles in addition to story readings and other events.

    The library opened in the Hyogo Prefecture city of Kobe's Chuo Ward, in March. During a recent visit, children overwhelmed by the tall shelves on the walls that hold some 18,000 books could be heard shouting, "So many books!" and, "Awesome!"

    Kobe Children's Book Forest, seen in this photo taken in Kobe's Chuo Ward on April 12, 2022, has two stories and is built of reinforced concrete. (Mainichi/Maiko Umeda)=Click/tap photo for more images.

    The facility was donated to the city by Ando. It is located in Kobe East Park, which has a monument to commemorate victims of the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake and mark reconstruction of the area, and the library has a section for books about the disaster.

    Unlike ordinary libraries, the Book Forest does not let people take the books home, but visitors can freely take them out and read them in the park. Instead of genres, books are classified by themes such as "Forest of Life" and "Forest beyond the Sea" to give children the chance to become interested in various books.

    A story time where pictured books are read aloud to children and a string quartet concert were held in late 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."

    A sign indicating the theme of books in one of the library's sections is seen at Kobe Children's Book Forest in Kobe's Chuo Ward on March 25, 2022. (Mainichi/Maiko Umeda)=Click/tap photo for more images.

    Konomi Nakatsuka, 31, who is in charge of public relations at the facility, commented, "We hope each child will find a book that is special to themselves."

    The Book Forest is open between 9:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Tuesdays through Sundays. Currently, reservations are required to visit as a measure 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. Detailed information can be found on the facility's website at:

    (Japanese original by Maiko Umeda, Osaka Photo Department)

    In Photos: Kobe's 'Book Forest' lets kids read titles anywhere

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