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Face House: Quirky Building In Downtown Kyoto With Air Vents As Nose

Face House in Kyoto

Along a row of muted buildings on the quiet Kyoto street sits the Face House, an anthropomorphised structure that provides a pop of cheer in the otherwise sleepy area. Just down south of Kyoto Imperial Palace, this quirky building is not to be missed. 

Face House with functioning facial features

Face House - downtown kyoto
Image credit: @7e55e_69

Situated in a nondescript residential area in downtown Kyoto, the Face House is the brainchild of Yamashita Kazumasa, a well-known Japanese architect who designed the likes of Tsukiji Police Station at the Sukiyabashi Crossing in Ginza. 

Face House - front view
Image credit: @creative_studio_and_shop_ooo

First making its debut on the streets of Kyoto in 1974, the house was built to serve as a residence and studio space. 

Face House - close up of window
Image credit: @yann_jourdan

True to its anthropomorphic appearance, each part of the house is designed to mimic functions of actual facial features. The windows act as the eyes, and if you peep inside its nostrils, you’ll find air vents that serve as ventilation ports. 

While not so visible from the front, the balcony perched on the side of the property functions as ears, allowing breeze and street sounds to pass through.

Houses a lifestyle goods store

Face House - entrance of creative studio and shop ooo
Image credit: @chicamo

Besides being a head-turner, the Face House is also home to a quirky miscellaneous goods store, Creative Studio & Shop OOO, which sells a curated collection of handmade items and lifestyle goods.

Face House - lifestyle goods
Image credit: @rina_yazaki

The shop space, which occupies half of the premise, is filled with a treasure trove of dainty little trinkets sourced both locally and internationally. 

Face House - exhibition
Image credit:

On the other hand, the in-house studio is used to host rotating exhibitions featuring local and international artists, the occasional workshop, events, and galleries. 

Locating the Face House

Face House - front view
Image credit: @wakaba1995

Though the Face House is nestled within a non-touristy part of Kyoto, it’s a quick pit stop for those who are visiting the Kyoto Imperial Palace as it is just a short eight-minute walk down south. 

Those coming by train can alight at Marutamachi Station or Karasuma Oike Station on the Kyoto Municipal Subway Karasuma Line, and walk six or eight minutes respectively to the Face House. 

Face House
Address: Koromonodara-dori, Tatedaionjicho, Nakagyo Ward, 604-0012, Kyoto
Telephone: 0858-35-2221

Creative Studio & Shop OOO
Address: Koromonodara-dori, Tatedaionjicho, Nakagyo Ward, 604-0012, Kyoto
Shop opening hours: Thur – Tue 11AM-6PM (Closed on Wednesdays)
Studio opening hours: Thur – Tue 10AM-7PM (Closed on Wednesdays)
Telephone: 0752-03-9259

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Cover image adapted from (clockwise from left): @wakaba1995, @yann_jourdan and @hikaris_yuuuka