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The Nakanoshima Children’s Book Forest – Designed by Tadao Ando

nakanoshima childrens library

Nakanoshima Children’s Book Forest is a new type of library facility for children to enjoy. It opened in July, 2020. I would like to introduce some of its highlights! The facility will excite children and adults alike, so please come out and find a book you love.

The concept and the people involved are amazing!

nakanoshima childrens library

The concept of Nakanoshima Children’s Book Forest is to create a sanctuary for stories that cherish children’s honest eyes and sensitivity. We want children to pick up a variety of books to nurture their unlimited creativity and curiosity. We want them to experience the words, feelings, and ideas in spontaneous books, and to know that there are people and lifestyles different from their own in the world.

This facility is like a library, but unlike conventional libraries, it is a rare facility that allows visitors to take books out only within Nakanoshima Park. In other words, you cannot take books back to your home. nakanoshima childrens libraryIt is also noteworthy that the people involved in the creation of Nakanoshima Children’s Book Forest are all celebrities! Starting with a greeting from past Osaka City Mayor Ichiro Matsui, Tadao Ando, book director Yoshitaka Haba, and director Chiharu Maekawa each shared their thoughts on the facility. The most remarkable thing about the building is that it was designed by Tadao Ando! He is a native of Osaka and a special advisor to Osaka Prefecture and Osaka City, and is famous not only in Japan but also internationally as an architect. nakanoshima childrens libraryMr. Ando’s design of this facility was based on the following thought. I want the children who will support the future of this country to develop a rich sensibility. Unlike the Internet, where information is readily and instantly available, books are nourishment for the soul. It was impressive to see Mr. Ando surrounded by a large number of reporters at the reception, as he had put these passionate thoughts into the design.nakanoshima childrens libraryThis time, the arrangement of the books in the collection was also carefully selected, and the creative direction was provided by book director Masataka Haba, who also serves as the representative of BACH Ltd. The job of “book director” is unfamiliar to many people, but it is a job that creates many experiences in a bookstore besides “buying books”.

He is in charge of “TSUTAYA TOKYO ROPPONGI” and “HANDS BOOKS”. Mr. Haba selected a wide variety of books that would be close to children’s hearts and arranged them according to 12 themes, saying, “I want the museum to grow into a sacred place where the culture of picture books and stories is passed on from generation to generation as a delightful bookcase filled with things that speak to children’s innocent hearts. Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University’s Institute for iPS Cell Research has been appointed honorary director of the library, and a special shelf is located just outside the entrance of the facility.nakanoshima childrens libraryMr. Yamanaka also sent the following message as his thoughts on this facility. He said,

“Since I was a child, I have learned many things through reading books. If it were not for my reading experience, I might not have chosen to study medicine. Exposure to many books and reading experiences from an early age is a great asset for a child’s future, and eventually for the future of this country. I look forward to the development of energetic children with abundant creativity.”

The Nakanoshima Children’s Book Forest was born out of the wishes of many prominent people.

What kind of facility? Features and Recommendations

nakanoshima childrens libraryPutting aside the nonsense, let me explain in detail what kind of facility it actually is and what kind of features it has!nakanoshima childrens libraryThe first thing you will see is a large green apple. If you are wondering why green apples, please take a look at the picture book “Itazura no Kenchikuka” (The Mischievous Architect) written by Tadao Ando and illustrated by Koshirou Hata!nakanoshima childrens libraryAnd now, take note of the mat right after you walk in the front door! It has an original logo, original shape, and very cute and detailed design, so I can’t stop being excited about it. I am sure that children will be thrilled by these details as well.nakanoshima childrens libraryAnd just inside is the merchandise area…! I’m going to spend some time here before I look at the books, so I’ll get to the details of the merchandise later. Let’s go inside first!nakanoshima childrens libraryJust to the left as you enter from the reception area, there are steps lined with small cushions. This is a little inconvenient for adults, as it is just under the stairs and the ceiling is low. But for children, this kind of small space is like a hideout and must be fun for them.nakanoshima childrens libraryAnd what’s more, these steps are drawers, and there are books in them, too! This is a fun and playful space that makes you want to keep opening it to see what is in there.nakanoshima childrens libraryWalking further into the building, one comes to an atrium space from the bottom to the top, where an entire wall is decorated with a collection of books. The wall of books is truly breathtaking. If there had been a place like this when I was a child, I would have visited it every day. If you think you can’t reach the top of this wall of books, you’re probably right. Don’t worry. The same books are also on the shelves.nakanoshima childrens libraryAnother symbolic feature of this facility is this grand staircase, located right in the center of the facility. As seen in the opening image, this staircase is not just for climbing, but is made of wood so that one can sit here and read a book.nakanoshima childrens libraryIt is great to see children enthusiastically reading their favorite books like this. It may be one of the ways for adults to enjoy themselves while watching them work so hard.nakanoshima childrens libraryThis is another space that children love.nakanoshima childrens libraryWhen you climb the grand staircase to the third floor, you can look down, but it is a bit scary. Why is it that when we grow up, we become afraid of high places?nakanoshima childrens libraryOn the third floor, there was seating by the window.nakanoshima childrens libraryLike this, the view outside is spread out before your eyes. By the way, this is the Dojima River.nakanoshima childrens libraryThere are several other places where some of the bookshelves are chairs, like this one! That’s a stylish design you won’t find in any other library!Nakanoshima Children LibraryThis is the far end of the third floor. Chairs and tables are set up surrounded by books.Nakanoshima Children LibraryNearby, there is a place like this where you can look out at the view, and there are so many different points to sit and read alone that it is hard to decide where to sit.Nakanoshima Children LibraryNext we come to the first floor! This kind of space under the stairs is nice. It kind of makes me feel like I’m playing on a playground.Nakanoshima Children LibraryAnd when you look up, the view is breathtaking. It is as if a high mountain is right in front of you.Nakanoshima Children LibraryThe first floor looks like this, with desks and chairs placed here and there, and you can read books wherever you like.Nakanoshima Children LibraryThe chairs are small and very cute. This one is a little tough for adults to sit on.Nakanoshima Children LibraryOh, is that chair over there for Miffy’s exclusive use? What a smile!Nakanoshima Children LibraryIconic lines from famous picture books hang as characters in various places on the bookshelf.Nakanoshima Children LibraryA stepladder is also provided for taking books that are a little difficult to reach.Nakanoshima Children LibraryAlso on the first floor, there is a hidden room-like space, surrounded by bookshelves on the walls in a circle, as shown in the photo.Nakanoshima Children LibraryIn addition, the centerpiece of the hidden room is a single concrete space that is a hallmark of Ando’s architecture. This is a must-see! The ceiling is high with a moon-like skylight that creates a mysterious atmosphere. And that’s not all you can enjoy in this space.Nakanoshima Children LibraryIn this dimly lit cylindrical space, visitors can experience the world of picture books through projection mapping! Please take a look at the video below to see just a small part of it! There are other works as well, so please come and see what kind of works you can see and experience the real thing!

Now, let me explain how to actually use the system!

How to use the Children’s Book Forest

Nakanoshima Children LibraryAt the Nakanoshima Children’s Book Forest, you can freely read any book you like inside the library, but unlike regular libraries, you cannot check out books. The only thing you can do is to take the books out in Nakanoshima Park if you follow the procedures. The road in front of the Central Public Hall from Naniwabashi Bridge has been closed to vehicular traffic, so you can use the park in a spacious area.

So, if you find a book you want to read, just ask a staff member for the procedure to take it out. However, only one book per person may be taken out. There are some books that cannot be taken out, so please ask a staff member.

Books taken out of the library must be returned to the staff by 5:00 p.m. when the library closes. If you have read a book in the library, please return it to the book truck on the floor where it belongs. If you are not sure where it is, ask a staff member and they will tell you. Eating and drinking are allowed in the library, but only drinks with lids for rehydration are permitted.

Nursing rooms (with breast-feeding facilities) are located on the first floor, so families with small children are also welcome. Restrooms are provided on all three floors. There are no special rules, so you can freely enjoy reading books and hanging out.


Nakanoshima Children LibraryLast but not least, I’d like to introduce you to some goodies. These are really, really cute and well-made. They’ve got the Nakanoshima Children’s Book Forest design right on them, plus there’s a bunch of stuff from collaborations with Osaka companies!Nakanoshima Children LibraryFirst and foremost, this! This is the “Green Apple Candy,” a limited-edition candy made by Pineapple Co. Yes, that’s right. This candy is named after the large green apple at the entrance of the facility. But this is clearly addictive. First of all, it is simply delicious!Nakanoshima Children LibraryEven the author, by the way, buys it and licks it all the time during work hours. Plus, you can’t buy it anywhere else, so it’s worth the trip just for this!Nakanoshima Children LibraryThis is a picnic rug. This kind of merchandise is rare, but the idea for this product came from the fact that it can be taken out into Nakanoshima Park and read. The rug is made from recycled paper called “crepe paper” produced by Sanyo Paper Mfg. in Osaka, and is durable, lightweight, and has a water-resistant surface.Nakanoshima Children LibraryYou all know “Coupy Pencil”. In fact, it comes in an original package with 12 colors in collaboration with Sakura Craypas.Nakanoshima Children LibraryT-shirts are also available! And since there are two types, one for children and one for adults, parents and children can match.Nakanoshima Children LibraryFrom left to right, the straw bottle and mug. These are also very simple and nice, with the logo in place.Nakanoshima Children LibraryAlso, this is a “tote bag” and “adhesive bandage” from left to right, which I was regrettably unable to purchase because they were not available at the reception. This tote bag is really cute… I would love to go to the park with a notebook, a coupe, an adhesive bandage, and my favorite book in it. There were also wooden ballpoint pens, hand towels, hand towels, masking tape, etc., for a total of 17 different kinds of goods.

Facility Overview

Nakanoshima Children LibraryNakanoshima Children’s Book Forest

Open Hours: Mon-Fri 9:30-17:00

Closed: Mondays (if Monday is a national holiday, the library will be open on Monday and closed on the following weekday), year-end and New Year holidays, library clearance periods, etc.

Admission: Free to use. For the time being, online advance reservations are required to enter.

Location: 1-1-28 Nakanoshima, Kita-ku, Osaka (in Nakanoshima Park)

Details: Nakanoshima Children’s Book Forest Official Site

Nakanoshima Children’s Book Forest Access

Nakanoshima Children LibraryChildren’s Book Forest Nakanoshima 1-1-28 Nakanoshima, Kita-ku, Osaka (in Nakanoshima Park)

From the Keihan Nakanoshima Line – Naniwabashi Station, right next to Exit 3 Kitahama Station, about 4 minutes walk from Exit 26

*Please note that this is not Nakanoshima Station.

From Osaka Metro Sakaisuji Line – Kitahama Station Exit 2, approx. 4 min. walk.

There is no parking provided, so bicycles or public transportation is recommended.

I want to go! Recommended Sightseeing Spots in the Area

Nakanoshima Children LibraryNakanoshima is home to a variety of tourist attractions. Of course you can enjoy a whole day at the Nakanoshima Children’s Book Forest this time, but there are other attractive spots as well, so why not enjoy them together?

Nakanoshima Park Rose Garden
Spring viewing: mid-May to late May
Autumn viewing: mid-October to late October

Retro Building Stroll around Kitahama Station
There are many retro buildings in the Kitahama and Nakanoshima area, and you can enjoy touring around the buildings that give you a sense of history!

Gourmet Cafes in Kitahama
In fact, there are many fashionable cafes in the Nakanoshima Park area, some of which are so popular that you may have to wait in line to get in. Whether you are looking for lunch or just a quick break, we recommend taking a stroll and exploring the various cafes!

The Central Public Hall Illumination
Nakanoshima Park is home to the iconic building of the Central Public Hall, which is so well-known that it is almost a symbol of Osaka. It is so famous that it can be said to symbolize Osaka. In winter, projection mapping and illuminations create a fantastic scenery, so it is highly recommended!


How was it? While most libraries are large and have a large collection of books, the Nakanoshima Children’s Book Forest is smaller in scale than a library and does not have a large collection of books. However, the Nakanoshima Children’s Book Forest is a unique facility for children to enjoy themselves. It is a place where children and adults alike can enjoy themselves by reliving their childhood. Only at the Nakanoshima Children’s Book Forest can you experience firsthand the design of a world-renowned architect while also being able to come into contact with numerous books.

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