‘ONARI capsule’ toy shop BY Yuji tanabe ARCHITECTS

Located on the Onari shopping street in Kamakura, Japan, the ‘Onari Capsule’ by Yuji Tanabe Architects was once an optics shop but has now transformed into a fun capsule toy store. With 65 capsule toy machines and two mirrors facing each other inside the compact space, the Japanese architect aimed to make the interior look as wide as possible from the outside. It was important to create a visual presence that stands out in the shopping district while maintaining a Japanese traditional feel in the city of Kamakura using lanterns, oren curtains, cypress lattices, En-Mado, and faintly reflective silver-leaf paper on the ceiling. The architect also introduce the idea of collecting used capsules by creatively designing an interactive lattice wall to place used capsules between the intervals. 

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street view of the onari toy store

all images courtesy of  Yuji Tanabe Architects

glass windows and a low wainscot reveal the capsules 

The Onari shopping street leading to the west exit of the station is more frequented by locals, which is where the toy shop is located, than the Komachi shopping street at the east exit, which leads to Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, a landmark of the city.  Nevertheless in recent years Onari has also been used as a sightseeing route to the sea and the Great Buddha of Hase, thus adding historical value to the shopping district and preserving culture and tradition within the Onari Capsule shop. Yuji Tanabe Architects creatively aimed to renovate and revive the previoulsy known optics store.  Originally this compact store had about 6 tatami mats with a width of 3.4m (11.2 ft)  and a depth of 2.8m (9.2 ft). On the exterior facing the street, there was a frame door and a glass window that leaves a low wall wainscot–an area of wooden paneling on the lower part of the walls of a room– that effectively exposed the interior of the store to the passers-by on the street.onari capsule capsule toy shop in japan 7

65 capsule machines are mirrored to illude an infinite space 

From the shop’s entrance, 65 capsule toy machines look multiplied infinitely by a 3.4m (11.2 ft)  high mirror on the right side. In addition, the 45mm square Japanese cypress lattices on the mirrored surface are arranged at intervals of 4 types (45mm, 55mm, 65mm, 75mm). The interval spaces account for the standard capsule sizes since the lattices function as a system that collects empty capsules. The capsule is inserted between two lattices after taking out the contents inside– a fun way to recycle the capsules. 

The cypress lattice was cut out with En-Mado (circles) of different sizes on both sides. By making the En-Mado on the entrance side smaller than the one on the opposite side, the reflection on the mirror makes it appear smaller. In other words, the perspective is emphasized, and therefore  it feels farther than the actual distance.  Kamakura was a capital city in 800 years ago and it has a long history, which is why the Onari Capsule is a place that holds historical value and proposes a new way of sustaining the culture around capsule toy shops while providing a fun approach to recycling the capsules. 

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mirror wall on one side of the store creating the illusion of infinite capsules