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Japan’s Shrinking Population and Local Innovation: Turning Empty Houses into Guesthouses

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In many cases, guesthouse operators actively promote interaction between guests and locals. It is hoped that the new guesthouses will aid the revitalization of regional communities, and attract people to relocate from urban areas.

Sachio Tanaka reports: Hachane in Tokamachi, Niigata Prefecture, is one of such guesthouses. The word “hachane” is a local expression meaning, “See you again.”

“It is enjoyable to see people who come to stay in my guesthouse spending time with locals, and observe the relationships between them growing.”

— Sakiko Morioka, 30, who moved back from Tokyo to her home city last year

Hachane’s building formerly accommodated an izakaya restaurant and residence. After the izakaya closed, the building reopened as Hachane in April this year after undergoing renovation.

Yoshiki Koizumi, 45, who operates Hachane, formerly worked for a real estate company in Tokyo for about 20 years.

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“According to Yukari Maeda, author of ‘Japan Hostel and Guesthouse Guide,’ published by Wani Books Co., which includes information on about 100 facilities, the number of guesthouses has rapidly increased in the past two years.”

After being attracted by the natural environment and climate of the town — which is also the hometown of the parents of his wife, Michiyo, 40 — Koizumi began the guesthouse business jointly with Yoshiko Iwai, a 36-year-old business consultant whom he has known since he was a company employee.

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“Guesthouses are used mainly by young people, who can bring new ideas and a sense of value to local communities. If it also solves the problem of empty houses, it can serve a dual purpose.”

The guesthouse is on the second floor of the building. Four guest rooms can accommodate up to seven people in total.

A 20-square-meter shared dining room is equipped with kitchen appliances, and guests often congregate there.

Guests also share a bathroom and shower room. The room charge is from about ¥3,000 per night.

[Read the full story here, at The Japan News]

The first floor of the building is now a pizzeria run by Chiho Takagi, 43, Michiyo’s elder sister, and the restaurant serves as a space for guests and locals to interact.

Koizumi also organizes agricultural events such as rice planting in cooperation with local farmers.

“I hope many people will come to appreciate Tokamachi’s homely atmosphere,” he said.
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[VIDEO] Japan: Odaiba’s Huge Gundam Robot Lights Up for the Winter Season

The full-scale Gundam statue in Odaiba, Tokyo, has a fresh look, with a projection mapping presentation made especially for the winter season.

Source: The Japan Times


That’s a Lot of Yen! Tokyo 2020 Olympic Stadium to Cost Over $2 Billion

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Jun Hongo reports: Japan’s sports minister on Monday said the government will stick to its original construction plan for a new national stadium for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games, noting the project will now cost about $2 billion.

Designed by U.K.-based architect Zaha Hadid, the new stadium will feature two arches on its top and a retractable roof that won’t be completed in time for the Games. Construction is scheduled to finish before the 2019 Rugby World Cup, which Japan will also host. Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: 5 People Killed in Stabbing Spree in Sumoto, Rural Western Japan

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(OSAKA, Japan) — Police say five people have been killed in a stabbing spree in a small town in western Japan.

A 40-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the Monday morning attacks. The motive is unclear.

Media reports say the victims ranged in age from 60 to 80 years old and lived in two houses set among farms in the city of Sumoto on Awaji Island.

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Keizo Okumoto, deputy chief of the Sumoto police, said the man who was arrested, Tatsuhiko Hirano, is a neighbor of the victims. Read the rest of this entry »


Big in Japan: How Tokyo is Gearing Up for the 2020 Olympics


The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Stadium Has a Glass Roof and Seats 80,000

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The Tokyo 2020 Olympic stadium has been given the green light now that Japan has officially won the games. The new stadium is set to be built by Zaha Hadid Architects and is quite an impressive sight. It will function as the country’s new national stadium and will be able to seat 80,000 people and will come with a retractable roof. (GALLERY)

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Are Chinese Happy about Tokyo’s Olympics Win?

2di5pN7China Digital Times reports: As recent territorial tensions have led the relationship between China and Japan into a stalemate, how are the Chinese reacting to ’s successful bid to host the 2020 Olympics? A Global Times editorial sees the win as a “fresh chance” for Japan to undertake an overdue reflection on crimes committed during World War II:   Read the rest of this entry »