Let's just say that Japanese safety codes aren't exactly the same as ours when it comes to stairs. Welcome to the land of open banisters, tall ladders, and rail-free designs. Here, a roundup of some of our favorites:
Above: A wooden stair with a simple handrail leads to a bedroom in a house 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 a Tokyo house designed by Apollo Architects.
Above: A ladder leads to a bedroom in a converted warehouse in Osaka by Yo Shimada of Tato Architects. Photograph by Satoshi Shigeta.
Above: In addition to a stair, a ladder leads to the second floor of a house in Yamazaki designed by Tato Architects.
Above: Wooden accordion stairs in a Tokyo house by Makoto Koizumi.
Above: A house in Kanagawa with a spiral stair of white metal and plywood treads, designed 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 connect to an upper level. Photograph by Toshiyuki Yano.
Above: Two sets of ladders access two stories in Sapporo's Small Box House by Akasaka Shinichiro Atelier.
Above: Open wooden treads contrast with bamboo clad walls in a house in Osaka designed by Katsuhiro Miyamoto & Associates.
Above: A minimalist Apartment in Katayama as seen on What We Do Is Secret. Photograph by Mitsutomo Matsunami.
For more stair inspiration, check out 10 Radical Staircases for Tight Spaces.
N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on March 5, 2013 as part of our Japonesque issue.