For years, Katsuyuki Kitagawa dreamed of living in a comfortable home in the shape of a domed manju (dumpling), minus the bean paste.

For over a decade his firm, Japan Dome House Co., based in Kaga, Ishikawa Prefecture, has come about as close to that realization as possible with the construction of a domed house made of next-generation polystyrene foam with various applications.

The styrofoam, a denser variant of the packing material used for consumer products, is now being used for agricultural purposes and drawing attention because of its durability against earthquakes and thermal insulating properties that enable energy savings, replacing more conventional materials like concrete and wood.