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Japan Aristocrat House - $119.000 USD

Updated: Aug 26, 2022

A long time ago, when I was rich and before I lost everything (easy come, easy go, right?), my friend John Souchak used to tease me about being a “land baron” because I bought a house in California with acreage (one acre, to be exact). Owning that place disabused me of two things: 1. That a fool and his money wouldn’t part, and 2. That I had any business at all owning more land than I can handle. (That said, I’m quite open to making both mistakes again if given the chance. ). With the above fool’s wisdom in mind, I present you with this house which I found today over my lunch break:

In old Japan - as in old places everywhere - there’s been a societal structure in which there were (are) people who own the land and others who worked (work) the land. This house in Japan belonged to a member of the former group, and is thus situated on an utterly enormous (by Japan standards) piece of semi-urban real estate. The house was built using the best materials and a style of construction called segai-zukuri, which includes elaborate joinery of hewn wooden beams preserving the wood’s natural size and appearance. Another luxury touch is the extra wide eves spreading over the engawa (Japanese veranda) which allow the main living space to be comfortably removed from the outdoors when the shoji doors are thrown wide open during the spring and summer months. This is especially nice during the June rainy season, when the entire house ventilates with the aroma of rainfall.

This large, well-made home was constructed by a wealthy family who also had the means to indulge the arts, as the house includes special soundproofing for the musicians in your family. Practice your koto or electric guitar indoors, or host a little concert even, without much worry of bothering the neighbors.

The local government recently eased building restrictions in this area, and you are free to construct whatever structures you like on this property as long as your new construction does not interfere with your neighbor’s use of the surrounding lands. The seller recommends perhaps turning this beautiful old house (which includes outbuildings) into a private school with the ample gardens being used as a playground. Another idea would be a high-end restaurant with attached Japanese gardens, or maybe an amazing, top-drawer Airbnb. Or lastly, how about just a nice house for someone, a couple or a family who appreciates quiet living, gardening, and traditional Japanese culture.

The property is located in the city of Sanjo, Niigata prefecture, about ten miles from the sea. Nobody’s lived here for about twenty years so expect some cleanup and restoration expense. The asking price is $119,000 USD—negotiable, I think.

Click here to view listing.


My name is Kurt Bell.

You can learn more about The Good Life in my book Going Alone.

Be safe... But not too safe.

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