Japan's quirky, quake-resistant dome houses are made of styrofoam

A family taking a walk around the quake-resistant dome houses at the Aso Farm Land resort in Aso, Kumamoto Prefecture, in September.
A family taking a walk around the quake-resistant dome houses at the Aso Farm Land resort in Aso, Kumamoto Prefecture, in September. PHOTO: REUTERS

ASO (Japan) • Nestled near a volcano in southern Japan, 450 quake-resistant dome houses put up by a health resort and decorated with flowers and dinosaurs are drawing visitors from across Asia.

A dozen polystyrene foam pieces, each so light that two adults can pick it up, are glued together to make the houses.

Despite the light materials, the domes withstood last year's deadly earthquakes in Kumamoto prefecture, where Aso is located, said Mr Masaya Konishi, manager of the Aso Farm Land resort.

"These dome rooms were completely unharmed. Not a single pane of glass broke," he said.

Wind and earthquakes do not easily damage the dome houses because they have no beams that can be broken, he added.

Japan Dome House, the company that makes the polystyrene pieces used in the structures, says that after the 2016 earthquakes, sales spiked two-to threefold.

The head of Aso Farm Land resort, Mr Katsuyuki Kitagawa, designed the dome-shaped cabins after being inspired by his work in the Japanese sweets industry.

SURVIVED 2016 QUAKES

These dome rooms were completely unharmed. Not a single pane of glass broke.

MR MASAYA KONISHI, manager of the Aso Farm Land resort, of the styrofoam homes.

One day, Mr Kitagawa thought it would be interesting to put people inside "manju" - traditional Japanese sweets that are round and filled with red bean paste - and decided to make rooms shaped like the confection.

The colourful result has proven alluring for tourists looking for a quirky family holiday, especially the domes adorned inside and out with images of Japan's popular Kumamon bear character, the mascot of the Kumamoto region.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 07, 2017, with the headline 'Japan's quirky, quake-resistant dome houses are made of styrofoam'. Print Edition | Subscribe