Let's just say that Japanese safety codes would probably not pass muster in the US when it comes to staircases. Open banisters, tall ladders, and rail-free stairs are a part of the norm in Japan. Here's a roundup of some of our favorite dramatic staircases:
Above: A wooden staircase with simple handrail leads to a bedroom in this house designed by Tato Architects. Photograph by Satoshi Shigeta.
Above: A stairway from the Threefold House by Japanese firm Takao Shiotsuka Atelier.
Above: Minimalist metal risers in this Tokyo home designed by Apollo Architects.
Above: A ladder leads up to a bedroom in this converted warehouse in Osaka designed by Yo Shimada of Tato Architects. Photograph by Satoshi Shigeta.
Above: A ladder serves as a staircase to an upstairs room in this house in Yamazaki designed by Tato Architects.
Above: A house in Kanagawa Japan with a white metal staircase and plywood treads by Apollo Architects.
Above: Mixed materials: wooden stairs from a sunken kitchen lead to the main bedroom of this house in Saijo by Suppose Design Office; metal stairs lead to an upper level. Photograph by Toshiyuki Yano.
Above: Two sets of ladders access two stories in this Small Box House by Akasaka Shinichiro Atelier overlooking Sapporo.
Above: Open wood treads in a house in Osaka with bamboo clad walls designed by Katsuhiro Miyamoto & Associates.
For more stair inspiration, check out 10 Radical Staircases for Tight Spaces.