Since it was first planted over 50 years ago, a Zelkova tree outside Tokyo has provided the local children with a safe space to climb and play. At one point the community risked losing the tree for good after it was struck by a typhoon and nearly uprooted—the tree became dry and lifeless, but it eventually regained its former vibrancy much to everyone’s surprise. As a way of honoring the legendary tree, a nearby kindergarten decided to build an extension spiraling around it.

Fuji Kindergarten’s “Ring Around a Tree” was created in 2011 by the award-winning Tezuka Architects as an innovative platform for learning and play. The wood and glass structure wraps around the tree’s trunk, creating six child-sized “floors” with some reaching only 3 feet high. In addition to making an epic playground, the area is also used for foreign language instruction and as a place where kids can wait for the bus after school. After holding class in a tree, you’d think it'd be hard to drag students inside—but luckily the other parts of the Kindergarten are just as extraordinary.

Images courtesy of Forgemind ArchiMedia via Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

[h/t My Modern Net]