Skip to content

Nakajima Library: Colosseum Inspired Interior Built With Cedar Trees Grown Locally In Akita

Nakajima Library in Akita

As children, it was always a bummer when our local library closed at the end of each day, and we had to be dragged home unwillingly by our parents. At the beautiful Nakajima Library, however, disappointed book lovers don’t exist as the Colosseum-inspired space never closes its doors.     

The library that never sleeps

Nakajima Library - interior
Image credit: @mayukikko

Known as “the library that never sleeps”, Nakajima Library (中嶋図書館) is every bookworm’s haven as it is the only library in Japan that remains open for 24 hours, all year round. 

Nakajima Library - interiorImage credit: @matu736

Situated in Akita International University (AIU), the library aims to provide its students and faculty with a pleasant environment where they can devote themselves to their studies. 

Nakajima Library - interiorImage credit: @reitabulka

As the space is opened to the general public as well, you’ll also see local residents spending a peaceful afternoon in the quiet space.

Built with locally grown cedar trees

Nakajima Library - interior
Image credit: @tokoro_tourism

Designed by Japanese architect Mitsuru Senda, the award-winning library was inspired by the ancient Colosseum of Rome, and the inspiration is manifested in its semi-circular design. Thanks to its unique interior, Nakajima Library has earned the nickname “Colosseum of Books”.

Nakajima Library - interiorImage credit: @kei.fujisaki

Serving as a “knowledge arena” where books and people meet, the library has thousands of books lining the bookshelves, which spans across the premises. When you stand in the centre of the library, you’d literally be surrounded by books.  

Nakajima Library - akita cedar treeImage credit: @tokoro_tourism

Look up at the ceiling and you’ll see planks of wood fanning out like the “skeleton” of an umbrella – a striking feature that is unique to Nakajima Library. Predominantly built with wood sourced from locally grown cedar trees, the wooden interior will make you feel as though you’ve been transported to a literary treehouse. 

Nakajima Library- umbrella shaped ceiling
Image credit: @lepetit_photos

Thanks to the natural light that fills the space in the day, the soft glow and warmth of the wood makes for a relaxing space where you can spend a laid-back afternoon. 

Spending an afternoon at Nakajima Library

Nakajima Library - akita international university
Image credit: @akinton0306

Situated within Akita International University, Nakajima Library is easily accessible via JR Wada Station (和田駅) on the Ōu Main Line. Start your journey at JR Akita Station (秋田駅), and a 12-minute ride (¥240, ~USD1.88) will bring you straight to Wada Station. 

From there, a 15-minute bus ride  (¥200, ~USD1.56) on the Chūō Kōtsū Bus (中央交通バス) on the Wada Line (和田線) will drop you off at the library. 

Nakajima Library - interiorImage credit: @yusuke_kakizawa

Though Nakajima Library is normally opened to the public, as part of preventive measures against COVID-19, the use of the library is currently limited to students and faculty staff members only. If you’re planning a visit, refer to the calendar here for the library’s updated visitor policies. 

Address: Okutsubakidai-193-2 Yuwatsubakigawa, 010-1211 Akita
Opening hours (For AIU students & faculty members): 24 Hours, Daily
Opening hours (General public): Mon-Fri 8.30AM-10PM | Sat, Holidays & Vacation periods 10AM-6PM | Sun 10AM-10PM
Opening hours (For high school students): 6AM-10PM, Daily

Also check out:

Cover image adapted from (clockwise from left): @mayukikko, @tokoro_tourism and @tokoro_tourism