PART OF A tiny hamlet called Hanase tucked deep in the hills north of Kyoto city and a 30 minute drive from the nearest pint of milk we decided to cash in our chips from the fast life and slow right down.
IT TURNS out we have a neighbour 2 doors down with the same idea! He is also a “gaijin” with a lovely Japanese wife and daughter but has been living in Kyoto for the past 15 years or so. Their house really is a Kominka and totally run down but they have already stripped the framework right back and making the right moves ( read quick builder!) We are not so fortunate. Although our house is in very good condition and liveable to some extent, our builder is not quite as quick as the younger guys next door. Also we have not been blessed with good timing. Soon after the plumber installed our septic tank, a huge effort on his part to make the house more user friendly for us and to allow us to live ” on-site”, the Japanese calender stated that soil could not be touched for 3 weeks followed directly by O-bon, so we have had to follow suit and wait.
I should tell you more about the house; it was constructed around 120 years ago so not as old as some of the surrounding homes and consists of the Omoya, or main house, 2 Kuras, or storehouses, barn, outside toilet,and Hanare,or adjoining dwelling and has a lovely private garden viewed from certain rooms. outside we also have 2 reasonable blocks of land to do something with and across the road a mountain laden with cedars and a gorgeous crystal river to gaze at at anytime of day.
OUR INTENTION is to eventually bring everything back to it’s full original beauty with a few modern twists to make country living that bit more enjoyable, i.e. double glazing, insulation, combustion stove. These old houses were not designed certainly for the harsh winters that bring everything to a close. Nothing new, a lot of people have been doing this sort of thing for a long time before us and probably with a lot more skill and vision but we are no strangers to Kominka as we have been searching high and low across the country for the last 10 – 15 years. We finally found Hanase several years ago, and exchanged contracts on Christmas Day 2015. After selling our business and home in Australia and shipping 102 boxes off, we arrived 1st July 2016, ( with the family dog of course !)
Meet ” BOSS ”
WE want to convert the Kuras into self accommodation and establish a Nouka Minshuku, or farming guest-house where guests can come and stay and pick out there veggies from the garden and come and cook with us for dinner. We ran a very successful restaurant business back in Oz for 25 years but this is completely different and I must say it is early days but we are enjoying talking to farmers and fruit growers and sourcing out some potential ingredients for the future. I’ll post some pics now of the house to get a better idea of where we are.