Freedom, Safety and Security – Fuji Kindergarten in Tokyo, an open multilevel Japanese nursery school
Big open spaces, with opportunities to run freely, climb trees, move objects all around, leave classes in an unrestricted manner, and talk “ido bata kaigi”, which means “conference around the well” –or in this case, the water cooler.
The Oval shaped Fuji kindergarten — the best nursery school in the world
Fuji kindergarten in Japan is the most unusual nursery school in the world. It offers an oval shape, a lot of free space, several levels, and it is literally built around the trees. It has already received many awards and has become a major attraction in Tokyo. Even the history of this architectural wonder is a out of the ordinary.
Japanese architects Yuji and Takaharu Tezuka began working on a project codenamed the “ring around the tree”
According to their initial plan, the kindergarten was to be located around a branchy zelkova tree (a Japanese elm).
This 50 year old tree had survived a typhoon that had almost completely pulled it from the ground. In order to save this mighty zelkova tree, architects decided to convert it into a live canopy for new generations.
That’s how the oval kindergarten Fuji was created in 2011
Children are allowed to do virtually anything: climb on trees, run around, slide, play active games… You may think that it’s a playground, but it is actually a high quality nursery school, with games and the comfort of children considered to be of equal importance to lessons.
The central feature of this kindergarten is its big oval roof with guardrail protection for both interior and exterior perimeters
Kids start to run all around the circumference immediately upon arrival. Astonishingly, nobody makes any effort to stop them, because the architects planned the design specifically with this in mind, to give children plenty of freedom in a safe and secure environment.
The methods and techniques conceived by Maria Montessori are the foundation of the education system in the nursery
This philosophy encourages children to develop in a natural way – there are minimal prohibitions and taboos. If the children begin to go beyond the boundaries of acceptable behavior, tutors gently guide them back on course.
The children are allowed to run, jump, fall, get scratches, bumps and bruises, because this is the best way for them to independently create their own experience.
The children can even dig in the ground!
The most enthusiastic among them can use special stairs, which take them from the roof to a special playground with a soil embankment. They can roll down the hill, dig into it and use it as a sandbox – or in any other way that a child may discover in their imagination.
In order to use the zelkova tree in their project architects meticulously planned safe ways for kids to climb the tree
Special durable safety nets are located all around the tree trunks. These nets totally prevent falls, allowing children to reach the trunk and even use the nets as hammocks. Children are really in love with this natural recreation area and are always using this space as the center of their games!
The Interior section of the kindergarten is no less original than exterior
Most of the ornamental and structural materials that have been used in it’s construction are totally natural.
All the objects and furniture inside the nursery can be used for free playing. Once a month children are allowed to relocate all the furniture under the supervision of the tutors and teachers. The photo shows how amusing this activity can be.
Unusual stools shaped like crates are used to sit in, or store things inside of
One can even put friends in them! It’s not forbidden to be inside during the relocation of the furniture. All of the furniture is made from very light wood, and the children can easily manoeuvre it however and wherever they wish. It’s almost impossible to get hurt.
On the following picture you can see how kids are “talking around the well“.
Too many children in Japan are addicted to spending most of their time playing on computers
Takaharu Tezuka’s inspiration to create this kindergarten was strongly motivated by his extreme disappointment in the inactivity of modern children! This kindergarten offers special sinks, which look like wells, in order to revive an ancient tradition called the “conference around the well”.
During the centuries, when women were going to retrieve water from the village wells, they would stop and talk with friends about the latest news. Now these children are able recreate history and talk amongst friends, even when they are simply washing their hands.
The first codename of the project was “The ring around the tree” and it went on to be the name given to the special rooms in the kindergarten
These rooms are purposely created to allow children to climb freely all around the trunk and branches of the tree. You don’t need to worry, there’s a special safety system installed too.
The Japanese have managed to create a nursery school where children are spending most of their time breathing fresh air.
The entire grounds are incredibly spacious, because there are almost no walls
No doubt that this kindergarten has a lot of zones, but all of them are interconnected. Surprisingly, children prefer to play in places with constant background noise.
Children are permitted to change their mind and walk away from any class, and wander around freely. Interestingly though, they don’t actually feel the desire to do this often, and generally drift back to spend more time in the classes that fascinate them the most.
What it your opinion about this kindergarten? Isn’t it great?