With an “Outside-in” room and a bath lit by fibre optics, this is one of Japan’s most unique places to stay.

From capsule hotels to atmospheric inns and private island stays, visitors to Japan can choose from a number of unique accommodation options around the country. One of the most unusual and beautiful places to stay, however, is at an architectural masterpiece called the “House of Light”, located in the peaceful countryside of Niigata Prefecture. Designed by Los Angeles-born artist James Turrell, the building was initially created for the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale, which draws tourists to the region with an intriguing collection of outdoor artworks and cultural programs.


The main stipulation Turrell faced when designing the building was that it had to be elevated over 2.7 metres (8.9 feet) off the ground in order to account for the area’s heavy winter snowfall. This became one of the inspirations behind the building’s design, as Turrell decided to create a house that showcased the world of shadows and light, resulting in a unique building filled with interesting design features.

▼ The interiors include sliding paper doors and tatami mat floors usually found in traditional Japanese housing.


▼ The exterior walkway also takes its design cues from traditional housing.


The Outside-in room also features Japanese design elements, but what makes this room particularly special is its unique ceiling.


The square cavity in the roof opens up to allow light into the room, essentially bringing the outside in, as visitors get to enjoy a view of the sky while lying on the traditional-style flooring.


▼ The type of light that enters the room differs depending on the weather conditions and the time of day.


While the building is open to visitors during the daytime, guests who stay overnight get to enjoy a light display in the Outside-in room, which mimics outside light conditions like sunset and sunrise, along with some other special fluorescent features.


Another highlight of the evening is the chance for guests to bathe in a “Light Bath”. While it looks like an ordinary bath during the day, at night, it gives off an eerie glow.


Showering on the side of the room in virtual darkness before entering the bath is a unique experience, as is the fact that once your body is submerged in the water, it appears to glow, like a firefly.


The wood interiors and the beautiful lighting scheme throughout creates a relaxing atmosphere, making guests feel like they’re at one with nature.


At night, the building becomes even more beautiful, with its elevated position and unusual front staircase making it look like a holy shrine.


According to the House of Light official website, Turell designed the building to accommodate three families overnight, to allow them to discuss their thoughts as they share the world of light and shadow together, which means guests may be required to share the building with other people during their stay. Prices start at 4,000 yen (US$34.18) per person, plus a facilities charge of 20,000 yen for the building, which is divided evenly between guests. With a fully equipped kitchen, guests are free to bring and make their own meals, or opt for a catering service that starts at roughly 2,000 yen each. For full details, including information and prices for day visits, be sure to swing by their website.

House of Light / 光の館
Address: Niigata-ken, Tokamachi-shi, Uenoko 2891
Daytime Viewing hours: 11:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Daytime Visit Charge: 500 yen (adults and junior and senior high school students); 250 yen (elementary school students)

Photos © RocketNews24
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