Fumiko Hayashi (1903-1951) was a Japanese writer whose early life of poverty and homelessness, troubled relationships, travels and dead-end jobs reads like one of her novels and indeed was the source material for much of her early work, including her autobiographical first novel Horoki (Diary of a Vagabond), which brought her success when it was published in 1930. Hayashi was a prolific writer, producing many novels and short stories that were popular in her time, a number of which were adapted into films by the respected director Mikio Naruse―Meshi (Repast), Inazuma (Lightning), Bangiku (Late Chrysanthemums) and Ukigumo (Floating Clouds) the most notable.

Though Hayashi’s novels are hard to find nowadays, she left behind the beautiful house in Tokyo’s Nakai neighborhood where she spent the more comfortable and contented last ten years of her life penning some of her finest novels. Designed to the requirements of the author, the Shōwa era house, which was to serve as a residence and studio for Hayashi and her husband, painter Ryokubin Tezuka, references the much earlier Sukiya-zukuri aesthetic of the traditional Japanese teahouse. The building’s two airy pavilions—one for living, the other for working—feature fine craftsmanship, a harmonious palette of colors and textures, and elegantly connected spaces that are surrounded by lush gardens and have an atmosphere evocative of a Naruse movie set.

The property has been maintained as the Fumiko Hayashi Memorial Hall, a museum dedicated to the writer and a space as contemplative and calming as any teahouse or temple.