The International Library of Children's Literature
12-49 Ueno Park 
Taito-ku, Tokyo 
110-0007 Japan

Tadao Ando 2002

Located within Ueno Park, The International Library of Children's Literature, a branch of the National Diet Library, is a renovation and expansion of the former Imperial Library built in 1906 and expanded in 1929. The subtle interventions of Ando create a dynamic juxtaposition between the old and the new while creating the first national library dedicated to children's literature.

The interventions of Ando are quite simple and elegant; a glass volume that pierces the renaissance-style street facade at a slight angle to form an entry, a continuation of this glass volume on the courtyard side to form a cafeteria, and a full height glass facade on the courtyard side that encloses a lounge space between it and the existing facade flanked on each end by a concrete volume containing vertical circulation.


The transparency and weightlessness of the glass facade allows for the continual reading of the old through the new. The existing facade was restored exactly as it was and the structure of the existing building was reinforced structurally against earthquakes. This new lounge area has a columnless interior, the glass facade supported only by vertical fire resistant steel supports. Because of its transparency and weightlessness it reads as part of the terraced exterior courtyard space.

In addition to the insertion of these glass volumes, concrete volumes and glass facade, Ando inserted two beautifully crafted wood cylinders into what used to be the reading room and is now the Children's Book Museum on the third floor. The form of these cylinders follows the form of the existing molding on the ceiling and defines smaller, more intimate, exhibition spaces within the larger room. When seen from outside of the room, they are provocative objects within a traditional space of white plaster moldings.


Kari Silloway 2004

How to visit

The museum is 10 minutes' walk for JR line Ueno Station (Park Exit) or from JR line Uguisudani Station (South Exit).

It is normally open 9:30am-5pm Tuesday-Sunday. (From November to February the Museum, the Media Corner, the Children's Library and the Meet the World close at 4pm.) It is closed on public holidays, Dec. 28-Jan 4, third Wednesdays of January, March, May, July, September and November.

Also located within Ueno Park not far from The International Library of Children's Literature is The National Museum of Western Art by Le Corbusier and The Gallery of Horyuji Treasures, which is part of the Tokyo National Museum complex, by Yoshio Taniguchi.

For more information see (mostly in Japanese), email or telephone +81 3-3827-2053.

Books and other web sites

Click the book title to view and to order direct from


Tadao Ando: Light and Water
Tadao Ando, Kenneth Frampton, Massimo Vignelli

Readable, beautifully presented book featuring works by Tadao Ando


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