Updated: Aug 26
Imagine owning and operating a small Showa-era Japanese apartment building in the hot-spring resort community of Atami, roughly an hour outside Tokyo, and near a bullet train stop along the JR trunk line. Built in 1970, just a short walking distance from the beach, and with a beautiful view of the sea, this building includes a master unit where the owner might live as well as four smaller rental units with 6 and 4.5 tatami map rooms each, plus kitchen and toilet in each unit. Like many such old apartments in Japan there is no bath facility with the rental units (though the owner's unit has one), which means renters will need to use a neighborhood bathhouse (Sento) to keep clean. This arrangement was once very common in Japan, when in the evenings family members could be seen (and heard) as they clomped along a neighborhood street in wooden geta shoes on their way to the public bath, bath towel around their neck and a small plastic bowl of toiletries in one hand. I've lived this way myself, and can attest that though seemingly inconvenient at first, one comes to enjoy the routine of bathing at a well appointed bathhouse with large pools of hot water and interesting people to meet and chat with from the neighborhood. It's a great way to wind down the day and very Japanese experience, quite nostalgic perhaps to older Japanese as well young Japanese and foreigners who may be fans of Japanese manga. Such experiences are a great way to experience the real Japan (at least the real Japan of the past) and to immerse (no pun intended) oneself info the culture. The cost for such baths is quite reasonable, and given that the community where this apartment building is offered is a famous hot spring area, the public baths here are sure to be the very best.
I'm thinking the days have passed when an old apartment like this would be considered by Japanese people as their actual home. However, I think the days have arrived when a building like this could be used as a theme-oriented Airbnb; offering visitors a chance to experience what life was like for so many Japanese city dwellers during the great economic boom and bubble following World War Two, when young people from the countryside swarmed into the cities to stake their claim in the burgeoning success story which the Japan of the 60's, 70's and 1980s. The units could also be rented as a guest house or even converted into a youth hostel. But I really like the idea of restoring the entire building to its 1970s glory, with dated furniture and decor to then offer on Airbnb as a true Japanese retro experience located in one of Japan's seaside resort communities. And given that the house is located on Japan's main train line between the Kanto and Kansai regions it would be easy and convenient for anyone touring Japan who wanted an interesting place to stay while traveling between Tokyo and Kyoto or while exploring the nearby Izu Peninsula or Mt. Fuji.
Additional details: The apartment building was built in 1970 and is zoned for residential/hotel use. Property taxes are less than $500.00 USD per year. The property includes a 356 square foot garden area on level land. The septic system needs work.
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My name is Kurt Bell.
You can learn more about The Good Life in my book Going Alone.
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