10 Ultra-Modern Homes in Japan

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By Jennifer Baum Lagdameo / Published by Dwell
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Japanese culture is said to share a close and harmonious relationship with nature.

That aesthetic is certainly evident throughout these 10 modern Japanese homes, where the architects have successfully managed to fill the residences with light and nature, while still providing their clients with a zen-like sense of privacy.


Hayfe by Cubo Design Architect 

This minimalist home in Kanagaw is perched on a terraced platform in a residential neighborhood overlooking the 15th-century Odawara castle. Designed by CUBO Design Architect, all the core elements for daily living exist on the second story—bringing views of Odawara into every room. 

The lot offers views of Sagami Bay and Enoshima island in the distance.

The lot offers views of Sagami Bay and Enoshima island in the distance.

House K by YDS Architects

House K is a minimal residence located in Japan’s southern-most island, Kyushu. Designed by YDS Architects, the theme was inspired by the transition of time through light and shadow—creating a space where the residents can feel connected to nature throughout the home. An internal courtyard brings natural lighting into the living areas and features skylights that offer light without compromising privacy.    

The architect’s challenge was creating a sense of nature throughout the home.

The architect’s challenge was creating a sense of nature throughout the home.

House in Iwakura by Airhouse

House in Iwakura is a contemporary home designed by Airhouse. Located in Aichi, Japan, the site is surrounded by buildings on three sides and faces a park. The unique layout brings a sense of the outside in and provides individual living spaces for each of the family members. The rooms on the second floor are connected via bridges, giving a loft-like feeling to the house. 

The shared living, dining, and kitchen zone features a double-height ceiling with a large skylight at its peak.

The shared living, dining, and kitchen zone features a double-height ceiling with a large skylight at its peak.

A Home That Glows in the Dark

When Daisuke Tokuyama told Makoto Tanijiri that he wanted a light-filled home in Hiroshima for his family of five—the Japanese architect had a very creative solution. Skipping conventional walls altogether, he wrapped the entire three-story steel structure in polycarbonate plastic. "We were able to mix categories that are usually separate," says Tanijiri. "Walls became windows and windows became walls." 

A glowing home in Japan has milky-white, one-and-a-half-inch plastic sheets wrapped around the exterior to let in light and provide insulation.

A glowing home in Japan has milky-white, one-and-a-half-inch plastic sheets wrapped around the exterior to let in light and provide insulation.

House in Ohguchi 

Designed by Airhouse, this minimalist home in Aichi meets the client’s request for a home-cum-office. The high-ceilinged, open living/dining/kitchen space is used as the homeowner’s web design office—which still surprisingly keeps a sense of separation between work space and living space.  

A tree planted at the foot of the stairwell, large-scale windows, and a double-height ceiling help integrate the surrounding nature with the home’s light-filled interior. 

A tree planted at the foot of the stairwell, large-scale windows, and a double-height ceiling help integrate the surrounding nature with the home’s light-filled interior. 

House in Nakamaruko by Panda 

This three-story minimalist residence in Kanagawa was designed by PANDA. The wooden home features skylights on the upper level, providing additional natural light without compromising the homeowner’s privacy. 

The upper level, which is accessible by minimal metal stairs, offers access to the rooftop terrace with stunning cityscape views.

The upper level, which is accessible by minimal metal stairs, offers access to the rooftop terrace with stunning cityscape views.

# House by ninkipen!

# House is a modern residence located in a quiet neighborhood in Osaka. Designed by ninkipen!, the detached family home centers around an internal courtyard where the homeowner’s children can play. 

The bright and beautiful open kitchen sits adjacent to the courtyard, which has sliding doors that maximize natural light.

The bright and beautiful open kitchen sits adjacent to the courtyard, which has sliding doors that maximize natural light.

House in Yasunami by TENK

This single-story residence designed by TENK takes advantage of its location in a secluded neighborhood in Koichi Prefecture. The interior consists of exposed ceiling beams that conceal an array of track lighting, while large floor-to-ceiling windows allow the homeowners to enjoy both natural light and their scenic surroundings. 

The design of the roof features deep eaves, which dissipate both heat and rain. 

The design of the roof features deep eaves, which dissipate both heat and rain. 

House in Futako

The short period of time when cherry blossoms are in bloom is a time of year that all Japanese treasure. So, when Yabashi Architects & Associates were told by their Saga-based client that they wanted a home where they could enjoy their own private view of the row of cherry blossom trees lining the side of their property, the architects set out to design them a minimalist home that would fit the bill. 

The home's windows line the row of cherry blossom trees. 

The home's windows line the row of cherry blossom trees. 

House of Takamatsu Bancho

Designed by TENK, this home is located in a dense neighborhood surrounded by multi-unit residences in Kagawa. The location inspired the architects to design the home with an interior courtyard to provide natural light and airflow.

The architects also kept the front facade bare—with only a strip window toward the top of the structure—providing a ray of natural light and protecting the privacy of the residents. 

The architects also kept the front facade bare—with only a strip window toward the top of the structure—providing a ray of natural light and protecting the privacy of the residents.