In areas hit by the Jan. 1 earthquake in the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture, over 1,000 makeshift houses that can be made in a short time have been used as housings for victims, meeting places and volunteer bases.

The structures, called "instant houses," were developed by architect Keisuke Kitagawa, 49, professor at the Nagoya Institute of Technology in Nagoya.

The inflatable conical-shaped version for outdoor use is set up by pumping air into the tent fabric with an air blower and spraying urethane insulation on the inside. The insulation hardens and acts as a wall that allows the structure to maintain its shape even without a pillar.