Takashi Kobayashi, self-taught designer, carpenter and architect of 120 amazing tree houses in Japan, has come up with what he calls his “most important tree house” project to date – which was to build a special tree house for the children of Sendai, one of the areas hardest hit by the tsunami in March 2011. Japan’s “tree house guru”, in an interview for a documentary by retired professional surfer Rob Machado, said that building tree houses in Japan helped him find direction in life, and that he hopes this specific one will give a sense of hope to the children in Sendai.
With this in mind, Kobayashi and his team of volunteers completed a tree house for the children of the city of Higashi-Matsushima, on the coast of Miyagi Prefecture. The tree house classroom is inspired by the image of a dragon. The structure winds up a steep wooded slope, covering a sycamore and a mountain cherry tree as it elevates. At the base of the tree house, there is a little room that can fit around 10 adults or 15 children, which has a fireplace chiseled out of the bedrock and a roof that also doubles as an insulated, earth-and plant-covered deck. Follow the winding staircase and you find yourself on another deck, where you can get a good view of the surroundings. Another winding staircase goes to the head of the dragon, which is actually a small room with round stained-glass windows. According to C.W. Nicol – writer for the Japan Times – this is an important part of the healing process for the children. “Many of these children are traumatized,” he said. “They need natural beauty around them – and they really, urgently need homes and schools that will help foster in them a belief in the future.”
Kobayashi’s creation, while really too small to be a stand-alone solution to problems facing the tsunami survivors, gives a rather emotional and intellectual approach to the issue – this idea of nature deficit disorder highlights the importance and healing powers of connecting with nature, especially with the children of the area. “Nature, it gives us a lot,” Kobayashi, also an avid surfer, tells Machado in their interview. “This includes fun waves, but once they get as big as a tsunami, they can also take our lives.” In the wake of the 2011 tsunami, Kobayashi wanted to do something special and personal for the survivors – “that only I could do for them,” Kobayashi said. He has three young children himself, so he says that “when I think of the children still missing from this area it hurts me.”
[via Huffington Post]