Japan’s Largest Treehouse is a Sprawling Structure Built Around a 300-year Old Tree

risonare atami treehouse by hiroshi nakamura

all photos by Koji Fujii / Nacasa and Partners Inc.

Japanese Treehouse Creator Takashi Kobayashi has built over 120 treehouses in the past 15 years. When it comes to treehouses, his name is known across Japan and overseas. So when he was approached by the Risonare resort in Atami to create a treehouse for them, Kobayashi had his reservations. After all, he had plenty of other offers.

risonare atami treehouse by hiroshi nakamura

But “the quality of the treehouse is fully dependent on the tree itself,” says Kobayashi modestly. “Encountering a good tree is everything.” That’s why, when he visited the potential site and met the towering 300-year old camphor tree, it immediately fueled his imagination and he accepted.

risonare atami treehouse by hiroshi nakamura

Completed in March of 2014, Kusukusu (it borrows its name from kusu-no-ki, Japanese for camphor tree) is a marvelous feat of architecture, engineering and technology. Working with Hiroshi Nakamura of NAP Architects, the team came in and 3D-scanned hundreds of points on the tree. Based on that 3D data they then created a steel trellis that threaded through the tree, interlocking perfectly and acting as an architecturally weight-bearing yet visually stunning support system. What’s amazing is that the treehouse in its entirety, never touches the tree. It’s completely self-standing so as to not harm the tree.

risonare atami treehouse by hiroshi nakamura

Leading up to the treehouse is a 120-ft long pathway of lush greenery. As visitors approach the structure there is a large base, followed by a 2nd mezzanine. There is a coffee stand, a picnic area and athletic activities like zip lines where kids can play. It’s worth noting though that the treehouse is only open to guests of the Risonare Atami resort.

Resting perfectly like a birds nest, the treehouse is Kobayashi’s biggest undertaking to-date and is also the largest treehouse in all of Japan.

risonare atami treehouse by hiroshi nakamura

the lush passageway leading to the treehouse was designed by Solso

risonare atami treehouse by hiroshi nakamura

illustration courtesy Risonare Atami Resort

risonare atami treehouse by hiroshi nakamura

risonare atami treehouse by hiroshi nakamura

risonare atami treehouse by hiroshi nakamura

risonare atami treehouse by hiroshi nakamura

risonare atami treehouse by hiroshi nakamura

risonare atami treehouse by hiroshi nakamura

risonare atami treehouse by hiroshi nakamura

4 Comments

  1. Great, it’s been alive for 300 years and has become naturally majestic, each branch and curve has followed years of sun, wind and weather. Now it’s covered in wood, metal and materials that will draw attention away from it’s beauty, toward a useless folly built by man. Will we ever learn to appreciate for what things are, not what we can do to them for our own self-gratification.
    Instead of building on it he should have gazed at it’s beauty and walked on by, so the next person could do the same, and the next …

  2. Stephen, I wish your Dad would have walked by your Mom and not touched her garden, you dummy. Nature can obviously be many things and useful is what this tree has become rather than just beautiful to look at. They obviously went through great lengths to protect the tree, so calm down and try to step down off your high horse. Self-righteous Americans…

  3. You’re both right, of course. The property owner had a wide range of options available for the tree. They could have left it alone for another 300 years or they could have converted it into a mountainous pile of wood chips for kids to play on. The option they chose may only make sense for a few years and, since they took care not to damage the tree. They can revert back at any time.

    If I were that tree, I’d choose to look awesome and have people rambling all over me rather that just standing there looking regal.

  4. Stephen, got to agree with you. I seen amazing, beautiful treehouses which enhanced the appearance of the tree and delivered a functional home/space. This is a monstrosity – the clever metal structure would look great under a span-bridge (may be) – but not this tree.

    As for high horses dissing a whole nation seems pretty lofty to me Ben!

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