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New Life for Abandoned Houses

Extending the life of homes to make the most of the resources is key sustainability and there is great value in restoring old Akiya, Minka, Machiya in Japan into comfortable homes.

New Life for Abandoned AKIYA Homes in Japan – Podcast Version

Akiya-Hunter Matt Ketchum Links Disused Homes in Rural Japan to International Buyers

Japan has a lot of unused and abandoned houses in the rural areas which are still usable and can be bought for reasonable prices as well as being more spacious than new builds. Combine this with the desire for many urbanites to move to the rural areas for better quality of life and less crowded commutes and this is a great time to starup a new Akiya business.

Eco-Lodge + Organic Farming for a Better Quality Family Life

Kaori and Byron Nagy moved away from corporate jobs and a life in Tokyo after the 3.11 disaster ten years ago and used to make the trek back into the city, but have done so less and less as the years go on. They have a growing family and growing business using online social media marketing savvy to reach consumers who appreciate the higher quality free-range eggs and organic vegetables they provide.

Coronavirus lock-downs were a crisis for the hospitality industry, but they have been using the time to remodel another abandoned Akiya – getting advice and help from others with knowhow in the community like Kyle Holzhueter– and transitioning to more sales of veggies online.

Real-Estate Development for Abandoned Homes + New Eco-Builds with Mt.Fuji views

Fuji Jake (Jacob Reiner) has been remodeling old homes in the Mt.Fuji area of Japan for many years. He has been able to make a decent profit while creating more sustainable, comfortable homes out of discarded Akiya structures. Jake also has a lot of experience in development and collaboration on bigger area projects as well as helping promote new build projects that are not only beautiful, but more sustainably efficient, money-saving homes with beautiful designs that take in views and natural light into the design.

Akiya has a place in the Tourism and Travel Industry for Visitors Who Love Japanese Design

Axel Deroubaix is from France and co-founded the Cocolo Travel company which focuses on slower, more meaningful travel. They collaborate with many guesthouses across Japan which are remodeled or rebuilt traditional homes and guesthouses.

Restoring a beautiful old stately home into its original glory

Paul and Kimberly Fredale have renovated old homes in Hawaii before coming to Japan. Once they found a hidden gem in Japan, they did a lot of the work themselves to declutter, cut back the bamboo, restore original wood, uncover historical mysteries, add modern comfort that still retained a classic look, and collaborated with neighbors to restore a beautiful 130-year-old Japanese home.

Restoring traditional Machiya teahouses into Guesthouses in Kyoto

Mike Barr lives in a remodeled Akiya with his family but has also renovated traditional Kyoto Machiya teahouses to create unique, attractive rental accommodation for visitors.

On Location + In-Person SSL Follow-up

In this video, I had a chance in November, 2020 to meet up with Mike Barr at his guesthouse in Kyoto. There are some great insights here if you want to hear more behind-the-scenes know-how for running a remodeled Machiya business in Japan.

Love of Japanese Building Techniques for New Builds or Remodeling

Jon Stollenmeyer is an American architect and builder of traditional Japanese temples, shrines and homes based in Okayama, Japan. He also spent his apprentice years in Kyoto. There are a lot of great insights here from a different point of view as an artisan craftsperson of traditional buildings in Japan.

Creating an Eco-House next to Lake Biwa in Shiga

Iain Davey has rebuilt an old pension next to lake Biwa to take in the amazing views of nature around as well as make the most of sunlight through skylights, solar and a green roof. They have also installed compost toilets, a pond, and a veggie garden as well as raise chickens and goats.

Belly-Button OHESO Bakery + Restaurant + Factory Reuse of Old Buildings in Hiroshima

Frank and Kyoko are making excellent use of an abandoned farmhouse for their Oheso restaurant, an abandoned convenience store for their bakery, and abandoned gas station for their bakery and workshop studio.

The work they have done in reusing and remodeling these old structures have provided employment to people living in this Sera countryside area, as well as created new appeal for visitors to seek out their products and services. Raising their family in the area and putting their kids in local schools also has benefits for repopulating the local community. A great example of how reusing existing structures can be less damaging to the environment, create social equity (better quality of life for locals and visitors), all the while generating a source of steady income as a business.

Remodeling an old Kominka for a family to live in Modern Comfort in Shiga

Film expert Stuart Galbraith found a more comfortable home and lifestyle than he expected in the rural area of Shiga, not far from Kyoto. In the remodel, they kept many of the original elements but added others to make a more efficient chimney and a more comfortable style layout for a western family. They also installed a compost toilet.

Creating a Permaculture Center and Remodeling Akiya in Okayama

An ambitious plan to make the most of natural resources to grow food and enjoy a comfortable life in the mountainous countryside of Okayama.

Passion for Natural Plaster

When I talked with Kyle Holzhueter about the Okayama Kamimomi Permaculture center I hadn’t realized his specialty is working with natural plaster in Japan. Byron and Kaori Nagy also credit him for helping with their latest remodeling project in their rural area as he traveled up to help them. There are a lot of great insights here to get you started and give you an overview of his natural plastering projects.

Remodeled Old House into a Shop in Oiso Kanagawa

One of the few female entrepreneurs in the series so far, Lee is well-known in the Kanagawa coastal area for her excellent breads, cakes and baked goods. Another point of appreciation is her reuse of traditional buildings in her existing bakery and home as well as her new build using traditional styles. I look forward to talking with Lee again in early 2021 to hear about the remodeling and new design of her shop as they transition to a larger space.

Listen to these talks in Audio format
All of these talks about abandoned house remodeling and renovation are great, do you have a favorite? Please share your thoughts with us by writing a comment below a video you found useful or interesting.

Support JJWalsh and the work she does on SeekingSustainabilityLIVE to bring these stories to a wider audience. The aim of this series is to promote and introduce the good work of people around Japan and the world who are working hard to promote Japanese culture, artisanship, community-building, as well as those who are passionate activists, and innovators working to better the balance of people-planet-profits. Monthly supporters on Patreon get bonus-material and pre-release insights:

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