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Tokyo, Japan

The first feature that strikes visitors to the Fuji Kindergarten is its architectural structure: the kindergarten is laid out in a circle, it has a roof and a courtyard where children can play, but there are no walls or fences. Thus, there is no separation between inside and outside, or between rooms. This prevents children from being excluded, and means that they can come and go at any time. The kindergarten’s approach is based on the idea that children are not as delicate as we normally think. And, despite the open plan and the constant noise, the children are astonishingly focused: once something has aroused their interest, nothing seems to be able to distract them from it.

Nature and exercise play important roles in the kindergarten. Trees grow out of the lower section and through the roof, and are constantly integrated by the children into their play. The children can also play with water features, and these are everywhere. On average, the children run four kilometres a day on the circular roof. Moreover, the initiators also believe that children do not need special toys to play with, as they argue that these would only place limits on the children’s imagination. Instead, the children play with the building itself, boxes that are left around for them, water and the trees.







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