Japanese architecture is often thought of to be simple and minimal. However, Japanese architecture can be the opposite. Influenced by architectural legends like Le Corbusier, and, in the earlier years, by Chinese and Korean architecture, Japanese architecture has become a desired style worldwide. 

A staple of Japan’s architecture is the traditional Japanese home; with shoji screens, tatami mats, and the lack of any furniture, the home stands as a marvel. However, with changing times comes a movement towards modernity and a desire to manipulate previously used techniques. 

Keep reading to check out some examples of modern Japanese homes. 

1. House in Kyoto – by 07BEACH

Location: Kyoto, Japan
Completion Year: 2019

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House in Kyoto_©Ohtake, Y. (2019). (Archdaily)

Designed for a couple and their young children, 07BEACH took the opportunity to use an open plan for simplicity and for the sake of keeping an eye on the kids. The House in Kyoto is timber-clad and includes a tatami mat room on the first floor, paying respect to a major characteristic in Japanese architecture. To add a sentimental touch, 07BEACH placed a young tree within the double-height living room to grow alongside the children throughout the years.

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House in Kyoto_©Ohtake, Y. (2019). (Archdaily)
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House in Kyoto_©Ohtake, Y. (2019). (Archdaily)

2. Sakaushi House in Tokyo – by Taku Sakaushi

Location: Tokyo, Japan
Completion Year: 2019

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Sakaushi House_©Kawasaki, R. (2019). (Archdaily)

Architect Taku Sakaushi designed this 50 square meter home for himself and his wife in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district. With planning regulations and restrictions, the Sakaushi house was limited to three levels. Working within his constraints, Sakaushi displays modern Japanese architecture by moving the living space to the upper floor and the work/study room to the middle level. Comfortability and the concept of leisure through the house resulted in a pause-and-go structure of stairs, creating interesting sightlines of “scenery.” 

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Sakaushi House_©Kawasaki, R. (2019). (Archdaily)
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Sakaushi House_©Kawasaki, R. (2019). (Archdaily)

3. House in Toyonaka – by FujiwaraMuro Architects

Location: Toyonaka, Japan
Completion Year: 2018

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House in Toyonaka_©Katsuya, T. (2018). (Archdaily)

Sunlight and privacy were two core ideas for the design of this concrete home in Toyonaka. Due to the dense nature of the district, the house lacked any extraordinary views, and privacy was a challenge. FujiwaraMuro Architects designed a single mass divided into three boxes, with the voids between them acting as areas of fresh air, sunlight, and unrestricted views. House in Toyonaka is a simple example of modern Japanese architecture that highlights the client’s need through creativity and innovation.

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House in Toyonaka_©Katsuya, T. (2018). (Archdaily)
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House in Toyonaka_©Katsuya, T. (2018). (Archdaily)

4. Stone House – by Hiroshi Sambuichi

Location: The Junction of 3 Prefectures: Hiroshima, Yamaguchi, Shimane
Completion Year: 2006

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Stone House_©Shinkenchu-sha. (2006). (Archdaily)

Stone House by Hiroshi Sambuichi is a home that softly treads the earth. Designed with natural and reused materials, the Stone House is minimal and climate resistant. This structure of Japanese architecture experiences cold months of harsh winds and snow in the winter and stands as a cool retreat during the heat of the summer months. Protecting from icy blasts in the winter and controlling temperature and humidity in the summer, embedding the home in stones is what makes Sambuichi’s design a Japanese masterpiece.  

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Stone House_©Shinkenchu-sha. (2006). (Archdaily)
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Stone House_©Shinkenchu-sha. (2006). (Archdaily)

5. Rokko House in Kobe – by Yo Shimada

Location: Kobe, Japan
Completion Year: 2011

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Rokko House_©Suzuki, K. (2011). (Designboom)

Japanese architect Yo Shimada designed the Rokko house with a strategy of minimizing physical impacts on the environment while maintaining commanding views of Kobe. Positioned on Mt. Rokko, the home sits on a steep slope, and requires special construction techniques. The Rokko house features a transparent ground floor with a more private second floor. Connecting the home to nature, a common practice of Japanese architecture, Shimada allows residents and visitors to fully enjoy the environment. 

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Rokko House_©Suzuki, K. (2011). (Designboom)
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Rokko House_©Suzuki, K. (2011). (Designboom)

6. Pettanco House – by Yuji Tanabe Architects

Location: Matsumoto, Japan
Completion Year: 2015

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Pettanco House _©Tanabe, Y. (2015). (Archdaily)

Wood craftsmen in Matsumoto are well known since Japan’s Edo period. The Pettanco House’s client is a wood craftsman himself, and he requested a gallery space to display his works. The plan of the home utilizes a Japanese architectural module of 4ken x 6ken, where 1ken is equal to about  2 meters. Maintaining a low budget, Yuji Tanabe designs a modern, open space with low ceilings and minimal detailing. The resulting space is multi-functional, changing from public to private as one moves through the space.

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Pettanco House _©Tanabe, Y. (2015). (Archdaily)
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Pettanco House _©Tanabe, Y. (2015). (Archdaily)

7. Window House in Kamakura – by Muji

Location: Kamakura, Japan
Completion Year: 2016

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Window House_©Keikaku, R. (2016). (Wallpaper)

Adapted from Japanese architect Kengo Kuma’s 2008 version of a Muji house, the Window House is an 80 square meter home located in the seaside city of Kamakura. The open layout spread over two levels allows for flexibility to rescale and reconfigure depending on plot requirements. The form of the house, Muji says, is inspired by a traditional English country house. Frameless windows are placed strategically and sensibly to bring in light, ventilation, and to frame views into the garden.  

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Window House_©Keikaku, R. (2016). (Wallpaper)
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Window House_©Keikaku, R. (2016). (Wallpaper)

8. Ikema House – by 1100 Architects

Location: Okinawa Prefecture, Japan
Completion Year: 2016

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Ikema House_©Sato, S. (2016). (1100 Architects)

Sitting high on Japan’s remote island, the Ikema House looks out into the East China Sea as a modern cliff-top home in Japanese architecture. 1100 Architects built the house of concrete to withstand the extreme weather of the island and detail the interior with traditional Japanese materials to soften the facade. Divided into two levels, views to the sea and privacy are maximized and controlled. Traditional Japanese components, like shoji screens, wood paneling, and tatami mats, blend on the interior for multiple experiences. 

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Ikema House_©Sato, S. (2016). (1100 Architects)
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Ikema House_©Sato, S. (2016). (1100 Architects)

9. M House – by Ryuji Nakamura

Location: Eastern Japan
Completion Year: 2016

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M House_©Nakamura, R. (2016). (Ryuji Nakamura & Associates)

A former student of renowned Japanese architect Jun Aoki, Ryuji Nakamura modestly approaches his design for the M House. Sandwiched between two roads, the site presented stricter rules for building and landscape. Nakamura slightly modifies the client’s three concepts into four: garden, exterior, structure, and interior. The structure is a reinforced concrete frame clad in white brick tiles. Nakamura claims to have been passive in his design for the final result of the M House.   

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M House_©Nakamura, R. (2016). (Ryuji Nakamura & Associates)
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M House_©Nakamura, R. (2016). (Ryuji Nakamura & Associates)

10. Okinawa Vacation House – by Pawson Architects

Location: Okinawa, Japan
Completion Year: 2016

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Okinawa House_©Nacasa & Partners. (2016). (Dezeen)

The Okinawa Vacation House, developed by Taishi Kanemura from Pawson’s London office, was designed for a family wanting to escape their busy lives in Tokyo. The interior layout and exterior shape of the house were influenced by the site’s catenary curve. Three intersecting masses house separate functions, from single-story living spaces to double-story bedrooms. The diagonal footprint of the site funnels sightlines to the ocean and provides privacy for the family. A minimal interior blends English and Japanese architecture for a clean and relaxing escape.

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Okinawa House_©Nacasa & Partners. (2016). (Dezeen)
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Okinawa House_©Nacasa & Partners. (2016). (Dezeen)
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