The architecture in Japan tends to look pretty much the same in most neighborhoods. It’s always a mix of older, traditional homes with sloping roofs and those distinctive, old-time shingles, which butt up against the blockier modern buildings, plus decaying shanty houses on an alarming number of corners that all look like they could come crashing down at any moment. Sure, there is the occasional bizarre Halloween village out of nowhere, and the skyscrapers and such can be cool and varied, that’s generally the pattern.
So imagine how extra disorienting it would be to stumble upon this largely unheard-of village of beautifully weird polystyrene bubble houses in the middle of nowhere, Japan.
This is Tore Tore Village, tucked away in an idyllic valley in Wakayama Prefecture’s Shirahama. Despite the moniker, it’s technically not really a village because each little bubble house is actually a private hotel room, but the quaint little bubbles dotting either side of the winding, cobbled sidewalks of Tore Tore Village is a charming and enchanting sight—perhaps somewhere between a city of Dragon Ball-style Capsule Houses and a "Star Wars" movie set.
Tore Tore Village has two distinct areas: the “Märchen Zone” — which features some smoking- and pet-OK pods — and the non-smoking “Fantajic Zone.” The bubble houses in each area seem to have a slightly different aesthetic, although all are more or less the same size and are furnished with your usual hotel amenities. There’s even a convenience store in the resort that we presume is also a bubble and is perhaps staffed by hobbits.
Obviously, if you’re looking for a sweepingly enormous suite to spend your Wakayama vacation in, Tore Tore Village maybe isn’t for you, since the trade-off for the novelty of a stay on Tattooine is that the living quarters look to be fairly cramped. But for anyone on the fence about this quirky little resort village, you’ll want to know that Tore Tore Village is also located a stone’s throw away from two of Wakayama’s (and possibly Japan’s) best tourist destinations: Shirarahama, a beautiful white sand beach that is apparently a “sister beach” to Waikiki, and Nanki-Shirahama Onsen, one of Japan’s three best hot springs resorts.
Not that you’ll be leaving your cute little pod hotel, though, in the face of the irresistible allure of each room’s complementary Jenga set.
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