yuji tanabe completes capsule toy shop in japan with mirror optical illusion

yuji tanabe completes capsule toy shop in japan with mirror optical illusion

‘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 architects also introduce the idea of collecting used capsules by creatively designing an interactive lattice wall to place used capsules between the intervals. 


onari capsule capsule toy shop in japan 1
street view of the Onari toy store

all images courtesy of  Yuji Tanabe Architects



glass windows and a low wainscot reveal the capsules


Yuji Tanabe Architects creatively aimed to renovate and revive the previously known optics store. The Onari shopping street, leading to the West exit of the city’s station, is more frequented by locals, which is where the toy shop is located. 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. Originally this compact store had about six 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. 


onari capsule capsule toy shop in japan 6
mirror wall on one side of the store creating the illusion of infinite capsules


onari capsule capsule toy shop in japan 2

onari capsule capsule toy shop in japan 5
placing the unwanted capsules between the lattice intervals


onari capsule capsule toy shop in japan 3

onari capsule capsule toy shop in japan 8
large capsule light

onari capsule capsule toy shop in japan 10


onari capsule capsule toy shop in japan 11


onari capsule capsule toy shop in japan 12



project info:


name: Onari Capsule
designer: Yuji Tanabe Architects

location: 8-2 Onarimachi, Kamakura, Kanagawa, Japan

Production: Kayac

Construction: System shop Hagiwara

Area: 9.52 sqm / 31.2 ft


designboom has received this project from our DIY submissions feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: zaha mango | designboom

suscribe on designboom
- see sample
- see sample
suscribe on designboom

happening now! croatian furniture company prostoria stands as an example of a different and more traditional approach based on the evolution from the local factuality of all actors involved in the production process. explore prostoria on designboom! 

architecture in japan (1510)

renovation architecture and design (765)

retail interiors (671)

yuji tanabe (15)


a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

designboom will always be there for you

milan, new york, beijing, tokyo,  since 1999