Japan's quirky, quake-resistant dome houses prove a big draw

ASO, Japan, Nov 6 (Reuters) - Nestled near a volcano in southern Japan, 450 quake-resistant dome houses put up by a health resort and decorated with flowers and dinosaurs are drawing visitors from across Asia.

A dozen polystyrene foam pieces, each so light that two adults can pick it up, are glued together to make the houses.

Despite the light materials, the domes withstood last year's deadly earthquakes in Kumamoto prefecture, where Aso is located, said Masaya Konishi, manager of the Aso Farm Land resort.

"These dome rooms were completely unharmed," Konishi told Reuters. "Not a single pane of glass broke."

See inside the homes: 

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Japan's earthquake-resistant dome houses
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Japan's earthquake-resistant dome houses
Quake-resistant dome houses are pictured at the Aso Farm Land resort in Aso, Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan September 15, 2017. Picture taken on September 15, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
A family from Singapore enters a quake-resistant dome house decorated with Japan's popular 'Kumamon' bear character at the Aso Farm Land resort in Aso, Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan September 15, 2017. Picture taken on September 15, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
A quake-resistant dome house decorated with Japan's popular 'Kumamon' bear character is pictured at the Aso Farm Land resort in Aso, Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan September 15, 2017. Picture taken on September 15, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
A staff arranges a bed at a quake-resistant dome house decorated with Japan's popular 'Kumamon' bear character at the Aso Farm Land resort in Aso, Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan September 15, 2017. Picture taken on September 15, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
A girl from Singapore runs past a quake-resistant dome house decorated with Japan's popular 'Kumamon' bear character at the Aso Farm Land resort in Aso, Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan September 15, 2017. Picture taken on September 15, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
A hanger at a quake-resistant dome house decorated with Japan's popular 'Kumamon' bear character is pictured at the Aso Farm Land resort in Aso, Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan September 15, 2017. Picture taken on September 15, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Interior of a quake-resistant dome house decorated with Japan's popular 'Kumamon' bear character is pictured at the Aso Farm Land resort in Aso, Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan September 15, 2017. Picture taken on September 15, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
A tourist from Singapore arranges his luggage at a quake-resistant dome house decorated with Japan's popular 'Kumamon' bear character after checking in with his family at the Aso Farm Land resort in Aso, Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan September 15, 2017. Picture taken on September 15, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
A girl from Singapore comes out of a quake-resistant dome house decorated with Japan's popular 'Kumamon' bear character at the Aso Farm Land resort in Aso, Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan September 15, 2017. Picture taken on September 15, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Visitors walk past a quake-resistant dome house decorated with Japan's popular 'Kumamon' bear character at the Aso Farm Land resort in Aso, Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan September 15, 2017. Picture taken on September 15, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Quake-resistant dome houses are pictured at the Aso Farm Land resort in Aso, Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan September 15, 2017. Picture taken on September 15, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
A family from Singapore takes a walk around quake-resistant dome houses at the Aso Farm Land resort in Aso, Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan September 15, 2017. Picture taken on September 15, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
A girl from Singapore jumps on the bed at a quake-resistant dome house decorated with Japan's popular 'Kumamon' bear character after checking in with her family at the Aso Farm Land resort in Aso, Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan September 15, 2017. Picture taken on September 15, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
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Wind and earthquakes do not easily damage the dome houses because they have no beams that can be broken, Konishi said.

Japan Dome House, the company that makes the polystrene pieces used in the structures, says that after the 2016 earthquakes, sales spiked two to three-fold.

The head of Aso Farm Land resort, Katsuyuki Kitagawa, designed the dome-shaped cabins after being inspired by his work in the Japanese sweets industry, Konishi said.

One day, Kitagawa thought it would be interesting to put people inside "manju" - traditional Japanese sweets that are round and filled with red bean paste - and decided to make rooms shaped like the confection.

The colorful result has proven alluring for tourists looking for a quirky family holiday, especially the domes adorned inside and out with images of Japan's popular "Kumamon" bear character, mascot of the Kumamoto region.

"We were looking for something very Japan and different that would just be fun," said Singaporean tourist Tsalina Phang, who was staying in a dome house with her two daughters and husband.

"This, with all the decorations of Kumamon, just sounded perfect for us," Phang said, as one of her daughters bounced happily on a bed in front of an image of a red-cheeked bear.

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