Residents of Nasushiobara City, about 2 hours north of Tokyo, were in for a treat when a new public library opened in late 2020. Nicknamed Mirumiru, the library is a spacious, two-story structure that takes inspiration from mori, or forest, a keyword from the local community’s identity.

The library was designed as a “forest of aphorisms,” explains architect Mari Ito, who was responsible for the overall design. She worked with graphic designer Shogo Kishino, who was not only responsible for the signage but also installed various words and phrases throughout the library bookshelves.

The various height differences and radial bookshelves create a landscape — a forest — where various activities overlap: a space that gently envelops visitors. The architect, who actually grew up in the area, looked beyond the traditional role of public libraries to design a communal space where people can gather. Miruru is a place where individual discoveries and awareness can manifest into a resource of vitality for the community.

The library opens up into a plaza that connects it to Kuroiso Station, making it easily accessible. If you find yourself nearby, it’s definitely worth a pit stop.