How can the mental health of Japanese workers be improved?



What you need to know:

Japanese people tend to overwork and not take the needed care of their mental health. One contributor to this negative norm is feeling ashamed and embarrassed to show weaknesses to others. So, some may view taking care of their mental health or expressing concern for their mental health as an embarrassment. In addition, mental health is a topic that is deeply under-discussed in Japan. Compared to other countries, the number of mental health organizations is significantly lower, and going to counselors or therapy is typically rare. Many Japanese people grow up without the knowledge of the impact and importance of mental health can be in the future, and when they need to care for it, not know how or what to do to improve their mental health.

Hi, I’m Asako, welcome to my project!

Project Statement

My project aims to improve both the physical and mental health of workers in Tokyo. What makes this project special is that it puts strength into improving the mental health of the workers who experience daily stress and pressure. Japanese people tend to overthink and bury their thoughts and troubles, leading many to become very stressed and overwhelmed. Mental health is not only an issue among Japanese people, and it has recently become a popular topic among many countries and age groups. Mental health is a topic that attracts my interest and similar to others, not something that I work on enough, even though mental health is essential for everyone’s health and well being – SDG 3. Through my project, I aim to provide opportunities for the users to learn more about how to and be able to find ways to decrease and alleviate the negative effects – SDG 4. For example, classrooms where people can learn about mental health and stress management deeply, rooms geared toward relaxation, such as aroma rooms and nap rooms, and spaces primarily focused on exercise. The outcome I hope this multistory building to have is for people to have a space in which they can release stress in a healthy, beneficial, and lasting way.


  • adults who work everyday

This space will provide ways for the users to get exercise, relaxation, improvements in their mental health, education about mental and physical health, and/or a breather from society. Users will be able to choose from a variety of rooms and this flexibility will allow users to choose what activity/resource they think will benefit their mental health the most.  I would like this space to also teach Japanese people about how to improve and the importance of their mental health and stress management.

Case Studies

Minato-ku Sports Center
University of Pennsylvania – Relaxation Rooms
Tokyo Bay Rehabilitation Hospital


東京メンタルヘルス (Tokyo Mental Health)

important points I learnt:

  • stress is caused by something not going one’s way
  • stress management is important to decrease and eliminate stress

important points I learnt:

  • taking care of mental health is not something that is normalized in Japan enough yet

My Response: What can we do?


To decrease the stress level and help adult workers with their stress management, I developed a building which would have several elements to help decrease and alleviate stress levels in the users. 

front view of the building

  • lots of glass to allow in natural light
  • mix with white brick walls for privacy and covering up certain areas
  • mix of wood and glass in the cafe

(path and field not included in sketch)

Site Analysis:

Needs Analysis

general spaces:

  • front desk
  • counseling rooms
  • library
  • locker rooms
  • restrooms

relaxation spaces:

  • yoga studio
  • meditation room
  • aroma room
  • nap room
  • sun room
  • garden

exercise spaces:

  • weight / workout gym
  • gymnasium
  • pool (indoor and outdoor)
  • multipurpose room

Mood Board

Floor Plan

cafe providing good nutrition, counseling, peaceful spaces, and pool
relaxation exercises and activity focused facilities

3D Model

athletic / exercise focused facilities
sun exposure spaces and a green garden

Digital 3D – Visual samples of the Design Proposal:

3D model 1

Final Design Proposal

sample of interiors refinement:

If you would like to see my Full Process for this presentation, please follow this link 

or view here:


(Presentation includes Bibliography Citations)


Audience Feedback: How will you get involved?

Thank you for reading my project!  I am curious to hear your thoughts about my research topic and project.

In the comments below, please answer several questions to improve and expand my idea:

  1. Can you see this building idea benefitting people in your community?
  2. If yes, which group might it benefit the most? (Does not have to be adult workers)
  3. What changes would make the spaces and building more beneficial? 
  4. Any other recommendations?
  5. (optional question, for my interest) What do you do for your stress management and decreasing stress?


Hi, I am Asako Ishibashi and I go to the American School in Japan. I hope you enjoy my project!


  1. Hi Asako!
    I really liked your diagrams and mood board. I feel like the rooms such as aroma rooms, zen rooms, yoga rooms, etc, should be put in all expensive colleges in America because a lot of students in America suffer from stress and anxiety. I feel like we should also have those rooms in our school at ASIJ. I could really do with a nap every community time :). For recommendations, I was thinking that there could also be an art room where people can paint and draw their stress away and put their anxious thoughts onto a canvas. Overall, I really enjoyed your conference <3.

    Way to go queen!
    Christina xo

    1. Hi Christina, thank you so much for reading my project!
      I agree with the argument you are making about how relaxation facilities should be put into place at colleges and schools. Some colleges do, but it would be awesome if most did as well.
      Thank you for your recommendation! I did not consider many artistic relaxation methods, but that would be very beneficial to users who may use their creativity and artistic talents to release their stress.

      Thank you Christina! 🙂

    2. Hi Christina, thank you so much for reading my project!
      I agree about how you said that relaxation rooms should be put into many schools and colleges. I feel like they would definitely boost mental health awareness and support mental health of students. Some colleges have some facilities, but if it were more widespread, that would be awesome!
      Thank you for your recommendation, I did not consider much of the creative methods of relaxation, such as painting and drawing as you mentioned. I think that would really benefit users who get their relation through creative outlets rather than only exercize and relaxation.


  2. Hi Asako!
    I really liked how you incorporated ways for the natural light to pour into the building and utilized the outdoors in order to create a more open environment. Even though you will place this building smack dab in the middle of my favorite park, your building is worth it!!

    I am super duper impressed with all your hard work and maybe in the future I will hire you to design my house!

    Love ya

    1. Hi Anokhi, thank you so much for reading my project!
      Yes, natural light itself provides a relaxing feeling and I thought that it was very important for people who worked indoors five days per week, possibly for more than twelve hours to get the sunlight and vitamin d.
      I do realize that I placed in the middle of the park, although I do have lots of greenery kept to hopefully make up for it.
      Thank you Anokhi, that means so much!


  3. Hi Asako – thank you so much for your project! I was immediately drawn to this project, seeing as mental health in Asian countries tends to be looked down upon. In particular, looking through your floor plans prompted me to realize the simple benefits of increased sunlight, usage of natural materials, and fitness facilities. These components are able to help cultivate a healthy workforce, where employees can increase productivity and happiness levels. In response to your feedback questions, I think your idea can be applied in a universal context with high-benefit services and economies. As a student from Vancouver, Canada, I see your project being implemented around universities or even the Downtown core. I think your project best suits target users working in high-stress jobs such as corporate law, finance, or even science. Your prototype is also an excellent contribution to a city’s landscape and urban greenery. All in all, I really enjoyed your project!

    1. Hi Stephanie,
      I agree, I hope that through these spaces, workers can go back to their workplace with a more positive headspace and have a more positive experience.
      My project may be centered around Japanese workers, but I hope that spaces similar to this, focused on improving mental health and aiding stress management, will increase throughout the world for workers as well as students. I am glad that you can see this kind of building in your area, and thank you for your examples, I did not look closely at jobs, but I think that all high stress jobs are in need of these kinds of spaces, ideally nearby.
      Thank you so much for reading my project and answering my questions!

  4. Hi Asako!
    I really enjoyed your presentation and how organized it was. I was really able to see your design process as I viewed your project. Everything was so clear and done well including your sketches and SketchUp designs. I really liked your incorporation of borrowed/natural light and how you connected your design with nature. I think you did a great job spacing out the areas, especially making sure the weight room/gym was not right over the library. I don’t really have any recommendations. Overall good job!!


    1. Hi Conner,
      Through my interviews, I learnt getting sunlight is important for the mental health of everyone, so I tried to incorporate as much sunlight into spaces as possible.
      Regarding the workout room placement, I tried to make sure spaces would not disturb the more quieter spaces below. The counseling rooms are not under the gym so they could be the least disturbed from vibrations or noises from upstairs, for example.
      Thank you so much for reading my project!

  5. Hi Asako!
    I really liked your project design and its topic. Your project was well organized and I could really see your design process as I viewed it. I really liked your focus on the usage of borrowed/natural light. You also spaced out the areas very well. Especially having the weight room/gym not directly over the library. I do not really have any recommendations, but your project is amazing and I think you have a future as an architect 🙂


  6. Hi Asako, I think your project is great in terms of both the design and the purpose! I can see the amount of effort you put into creating the visuals, and they are truly impressive. Reading about this building makes me want to work there in my future! Though I don’t know much about architecture, one possible concern I have is the cost of this building. The many functions in this building for relieving stress are ideal, and they remind me of the workspace that huge companies such as Google and Facebook provide. Therefore, it might not be very financially realistic for smaller companies who also have a lot of stressed (perhaps even more) workers to implement this model. I’m curious if you have a cost-effective solution in mind to bring this model to reality for those smaller company workers?

    1. Hi Sherry, thank you so much for reading through my project and your interest in my building!
      I agree with the cost issue, I think that it would be unideal and unrealistic for small or average companies throughout Japan to each have this kind of facility, considering the cost of the building and the very limited open space, especially in the center of Tokyo. My design is for catering to any worker, but I think mini versions should be implemented in companies for their workers to quickly visit and get some help, for example.
      In recent years, mental health has become a bigger focus in Japanese companies, but not enough is done. Often, workers do not have a counselor or someone to talk to, resulting in mental illnesses and in some cases, suicide. This commonality among Japanese people to not take care of their mental health is what has to be changed first, in my opinion. Implementing mini versions as trials for workers to try out may decrease the negative view Japanese hold.

  7. This is a great idea to address what seems to be a big problem in Japan. I think a space like this would be great for reducing stress. Good job on the design, you put a lot of detail into the interior and floor planning.

    1. Hi Landon, thank you so much!!

  8. Hi Asako! I really like how your design offers support in not only one mode but in multiple ways. I think the way that each area serves a different purpose is a nice way of asserting the circulation of the space, and gives everyone the energy in the space they need. In addition, I think the use of glass adds a nice element of brightness which would be appropriate in your design. Great job!

    1. Hi Alex,
      I tried to have as much variety to support the different ways people may deal with their stress, and as much glass to let in lots of natural light into the building, which is beneficial to anyone’s health.
      Thank you so much!

  9. Hey Asako! You’ve made a really amazing project and I’m so impressed with the level of effort and detail it has! I wish we could have been in the same GOA class to take it together so I could use your project as inspriation. I love the level of detail your interiors hold and agree that this issue is an often forgot about and overlooked one especially in Japan. Great Job!.

    1. Hi Jacob, thank you so much! I agree, it would’ve been great to have inspiration from your work, too, but your project was also wonderful!
      I hope that this issue is further talked about in Japan!

  10. Hey Asoko! This was such an amazing project with an excellent write-up and great visuals. I have learned so much from just reading. Your project has really inspired me to do something to better my own community. Thank you so much for your insight.

    1. Hi Ilham, thank you so much for reading my project and I’m glad it has inspired you!
      I’m excited to see what you do!

  11. Hi Asako, I really love the concept of your project because I think, like you said, touches on a not to recognized issue in Japan. At least from the research I’ve done in the past, a lot of people have talked about how rigorous the work life is and how there isn’t much separation between work life and personal life. How much effort you put into your project really shows and I think that it was a great idea!

    1. Hi Cooper, thank you so much!
      I am also interested in how a healthy balance between their heavy work life and personal life can be created, which hopefully can be aided through spaces similar to my project.

  12. Hi Asako!

    This is such an amazing project and I love your detailed design of the building and each of the rooms inside. I think it would benefit everyone in the community from adults to elderlies and to kids. But I was wondering one issue, how would you deal with such costs of operating a building like this? Would it be dependent on government funding? Also, I have been to Japan a couple of times, and it seems that Japanese workers have very fast-paced lives, so how would they find time to visit such a building?

    1. Hi Tommy, thank you so much for your insightful questions!
      I think that these kinds of spaces would be critical in improving the health of citizens and are the kinds of spaces the government should invest into, although I cannot decide that for the government, so I think support from government funding could be an option. Previously, someone also asked me about the practicality of each company having spaces such as these, and I thought that a better idea better catered to the limited space in the center of Tokyo would be to have mini versions within companies to push for their workers to value and take care of their mental health. This would be less costly although it would keep the workers in their stressful workplace.
      To answer your final question, one of the causes as to why their mental health is so negative and to be frank, awful, is because they overwork, which in turn causes stress. Along with stress management, over-working is an issue that needs to be made more aware of and discussed. Recently, companies have been trying to change their rules, to have four day work weeks, which would give them time to visit these kinds of buildings.

  13. Hi Asako! Your project has been done extremely well. First of all, your idea is unique and provides a great solution to a problem in your community. I think it is great that you are raising awareness on this problem which I have not heard much about. The design of your Final Exterior is gorgeous. The look of the glass mixed with the interior is a great look. Your interior designs are also very well-done and I can tell you used a great amount of attention to detail. Great job!

    1. Hi Kate, thank you so much for reading my project! I’m glad you liked it!!

  14. Hey Asako! Your project is amazing! You did such a great job of giving a variety of visual explanations of your ideas and designs. Each of your visual pieces are super clean and tidy which makes it a lot easier to understand what exactly your goal is for the project. Also, I think your idea to make a place for people to go and feel more relaxed, motivated or whatever else they need is a very awesome and original idea! Great job!

    1. Hi Eamon! Thank you so much!

  15. Hi Asako – I really enjoyed your project. As a psychologist, I couldnt agree with you more about the needs you outlined as well as your creative and compelling solutions! Great project. Dr. H

Leave a Reply