In Japan, The houses that people live in have significantly changed from the past to the present. As time has gone by, many Japanese style houses that once existed everywhere have been replaced with modern buildings. However, when you travel to the countryside, you can sometimes find splendid traditional houses.
Today, these houses are called kominka, “vintage Japanese houses.” These traditional Japanese houses are made of high quality wood and represent the lifestyle of the people who used to live there in harmony with nature. In the past, Japanese people lived in such houses for generations. They made use of the durable materials again and again, by fixing and sometimes even dismantling the structure. However, newly built houses today only last for some decades, and it is common to only use them for one generation.
In the Hida region, there are many vintage Japanese houses made with thick beams that can withstand heavy snowfall and survive the harsh winter climate. We have started collecting materials from these vintage houses to add new value to them and reuse them.
While some traditional Japanese houses have been carefully passed down from generation to generation, they may not always fit modern life. Some aren’t properly managed and get demolished, while others become vacant and gradually decay. Although traditional Japanese houses may not fit today’s lifestyle, it doesn’t mean they are useless. In fact, many of them are extremely valuable.
It has been difficult at times to make use of these houses due to their location. Even if a house has been renovated well, it requires good access to be used for a business. And when looking for a private house, most people search in comfortable communities. Unfortunately, many vintage Japanese houses are located in inconvenient areas that aren’t fit for modern lifestyles. However, these houses made by traditional Japanese construction methods have the option of being dismantled and “rebuilt” in a new location.
By rebuilding vintage Japanese houses, you can create an ideal living space to fit your dream lifestyle, in any location. When rebuilding with reclaimed wood, you are given the freedom to change anything, from the original layout of the house to its equipment. You can even radically improve the insulation. In addition, Hida’s large scale houses make it possible to build not only houses but also commercial facilities such as hotels, dining bars, clubhouses, etc. And by keeping a creative mind, it is even possible to connect two separate houses into a single building. Lastly, unlike modern buildings made with standardized parts, you can use special antique materials that are no longer on the market.
If more vintage Japanese houses go through the conversion process of being dismantled, relocated and rebuilt, it will expand the opportunity for people to create lively spaces for a new purpose. By providing new ways of using old materials and applying their long-lasting qualities, we hope people can choose traditional Japanese homes to create their dream space. We confront the challenges of reusing the valuable materials of vintage Japanese houses to expand the possibilities of sustainable architecture.