Because of the danger of earthquakes in Japan, relatively few areas have a tradition of stone building. Situated between Tokyo and Yamagata, the Ashino region, where the present museum stands, is one of the exceptions. The new complex there consists of three rice stores dating from the 1930s and three new buildings, all of which are laid out about a central pool of water. The pool is intersected by a series of pathways that lead to a courtyard around which the exhibition areas are located. An elongated structure housing the library closes the complex off to the south. Although the new and existing buildings are in volcanic Ashino stone, they are different in character. In contrast to the traditional, solid, rough-hewn masonry of the older structures, the walls of the new buildings are precisely worked and articulated to relieve the sense of heaviness associated with stone. The load-bearing walls of the northern section are honeycombed with a geometric pattern of slit-like openings and recesses. The openings are filled internally with marble, which lends the construction a translucent quality.