Updated: Aug 26, 2022
Some of you may remember me telling the story of a Japanese farmer in the village of the Long Bear who offered to sell me his entire farm (house, barn, rice and tea fields) in exchange for a basket of summer vegetables. I'd often wondered if he was joking... That is, until today, after Yumiko's cousin in Japan read my earlier post about our interest in returning to Japan in a few years and shared with us a Shizuoka City government housing website with information about local home buying.
Over lunch, Yumiko and I browsed the site and discovered it had a section for homes that nobody wants to buy (that got my interest, as I remembered the old farmer and his offer of a farm in exchange for a basket of veggies). Most of the homes are very old and would need a lot of work to improve and make livable. But that's not a big issue for me, as I've always dreamed of owning an old project home in the Japanese mountains where I used to explore. And since I know that Yumiko wouldn't want to live so far from the city it's therefore OK if a place isn't livable at first, as I can make it that way over time. So, we were browsing through the listings when suddenly I spotted a house which I actually recognized and knew very well! I knew it, as I'd previously walked past this house and through this village dozens of times during my years exploring in Japan. In fact, I'm pretty sure there is a video out there on one of my channels which I made with the camera pointed at this very house while the village and I was being drenched in a powerful summer rainstorm. I remember being fascinated by the sight and sound of water gushing off the roof onto the ground as well as the sound of roaring water from the swollen river behind the house.
The house is in a very beautiful area (in fact, it's in the heart of the territory which I once explored as softypapa), bordering on the very edge of the deep and rugged Southern Alps. The house is also just across the street from the second to last bus stop to penetrate these mountains, and in an area where just one bus a day comes through. The bus which visits here originates from downtown Shizuoka, which means anyone visiting Shizuoka could go straight from the Bullet Train (the bus and train station are in the same building) onto a bus leading to this village which will drop them off immediately in front of this home. The locality and relative ease of access by bus then, would make this place perfect for a rustic mountain AirBNB - which is, in fact, one of the ideas I'm entertaining after we go back to Japan.
Imagine you are visiting Japan and riding the Shinkansen bullet train a few hours down from Tokyo on your way to Kyoto and stopping off at Shizuoka. You've booked a night in an AirBNB in an old house in a village in the mountains. After getting off the bullet train, you walk downstairs to the bus terminal and get on the number 7 (I think that was the number) bus (you have to time it right as there's only one bus a day, remember) for a one-hour ride up along the Abe River, though and along stunning scenery within increasingly soaring mountains to get off at the stop at this little village, to then walk across the street to your AirBNB for the night. The area surrounding this village is beautiful, with truly old and rural temples and shrines, an ancient graveyard on the side of the hill and ready access to rivers, waterfalls, and clear water swimming holes to enjoy in the summer months. Snow monkeys are a regular sighting here, along with serow, and even wild boar if you aren't careful. In fact, you could even walk to the village of the Long Bear from here if you want to experience scenes from so many of my old softypapa videos.
Best of all... The place is quite inexpensive to buy. Not quite basket of veggies cheap, but almost. The house and land can be rented for $117.75 a month US. This is all just a dream of course, and our return to Japan is still several years away so we won't be buying anything anytime soon. However, it's fun to know that places like this actually exist - places that I know and love - and that my dream of running a rustic mountain AirBNB in Japan might not actually be so far fetched after all.
It's good to have a dream, don't you think... Something to look forward to as a next chapter in the ongoing adventure of life.
PS This village is also very near the site of one of my earliest softypapa videos titled "Clever Japanese Farmer" which I will link in the comments.
My name is Kurt Bell.
You can learn more about The Good Life in my book Going Alone.
Be safe... But not too safe.