Lonely Planet Writer

People are fascinated by this revolving wooden house in Japan

No strangers to weird, wonderful, ambitious and captivating attractions, Japan’s latest must-see is no exception; a formerly abandoned traditional wooden house that rotates.

The Revolving House of T. in Mito City, Japan.
The Revolving House of T. in Mito City, Japan. Image by Ryuichi Taniura

Created by artist Atsuko Mochida with help from local carpenters, The Revolving House of T. is a site specific installation located behind an alley near Mito City, Ibaraki Prefecture. Designed to move without the use of any electricity, the room rotates manually, set in motion by people visiting, adding a performative element to the experience. Within the building, a 5-metre-wide circular section has been cut and reconstructed so that it can be reconfigured to have the main space turned to face outside. Small details have been left intact to make it seem as if there is nothing special about the room, such as scuffs on the traditional tatami mats and holes in the floor.

Focusing on issues of relationships, identify, change, and familial generations, the project saw Atsuko Mochida spending over one year researching the history of the house, which lay forgotten for approximately a decade.

“I started researching with my grandmother, who spent a lot of time there and is the owner of the house. It was built in the 1920-30s as a storage space and then used as a family house since the 1950s. When she had children, they extended the house. She had four children in total and the house was extended three times. The style of the architecture was different part by part, like patches,” Atsuko Mochida told Lonely Planet Travel News.

The room is rotated by visitors. Image by Ryuichi Taniura

Atsuko got the idea for the revolving house following a series of conversation with her grandmother, choosing to transform it in a way that would represent her, as well as using it as a metaphor for change. “I made an intervention to cut the house with a complex connection and open it up. With this movement, the old house can get ventilation, new form and function. This activation is done by the public,” she said.

Updates on when the house is available to visit will are posted on the project’s Facebook page, with guests booking in ahead of time to view the installation.

More of Atsuko Mochida’s work is available on her official website.