Asia Hopping

Insight » SEA

Gorgeous Libraries of Asia


For globetrotting lovers of architecture, nothing beats the feeling of stepping inside a massive library-those architecturally ambitious structures containing society's shared knowledge. While Europe has some of the most awe-inspiring libraries in the world, it certainly doesn't have the monopoly. There are quite a few standouts in Asia, particularly in China, Japan, and Korea. The Library: A World History by James Campbell (architectural historian) and Will Pryce (photographer) shows three amazing Asian libraries that should be on every cultural tourist's must-see list. Add them to your itinerary.

Tripitaka Koreana

Will Pryce

Image by Will Pryce

The Tripitaka Koreana

This image shows the interior of one of the two halls housing the Tripitaka Koreana.

Built: 1251

Location: Haeinsa Temple, South Korea

How to get there: From Seoul Central Station, take a Korail KTX train to Gimcheon. The journey takes 1 hour 45 minutes. Tickets cost $25. From Gimcheon, take a taxi to Tripitaka Koreana. The taxi ride should take 1 hour and 20 minutes. Expect to pay around $60.

Address: #10 Chiin-ri, Gaya-myeon, Hapcheon-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do

Telephone number: +82 55-934-3000

The National Library of China

Will Pryce

Image by Will Pryce

The National Library of China

Designed by Jürgen Engel Architects (a German firm), the National Library of China’s reading room is roughly square on plan. It steps downwards, becoming smaller at each level.

Built: 2008

Location: Beijing, China

How to get there: It’s very easy to access this library from anywhere in Beijing. Simply take subway to the National Library Station. From Lingjing Huton station, the journey takes approximately 14 minutes. Expect to pay $1.

Address: #33 Zhongguancun Nandajie, Hai Dian District, Beijing

+86 10 88544114

Library Reizei House

Will Pryce

Image by Will Pryce

The Shoin in Reizei House

The Rezei House contains a family library archives poetic diaries, paintings, manuscripts and texts that date as far back as the Heian period. A ‘shoin’ refers to a study room, as pictured here. The house—formerly occupied by Kyoto nobility—is near the Dōshisha University. Image by Will Pryce.

Built: 17th century (and rebuilt in 1789)

Location: Kyoto, Japan

How to get there: The Rezi House can be accessed by subway + walking. From any station in Kyoto, take the subway to Imadegawa. The library is on the same block as University, which is within walking distance of the station.

comments powered by Disqus
Asia Hopping