So, you’ve seen the stories about dirt cheap 1 yen land in Hokkaido but couldn’t be bothered to actually build something. Then you checked the aucion listing for the 1 yen house in Iwate, and upon seeing it quickly understood why it was 1 yen. Finally you looked into that medieval Japanese town replica complete with castle but found it outside of your budget.
Is there any deal out there that balances the stunning beauty and history of Japan with a reasonable price? Ainokura district says yes. They are offering one of their famous traditional houses for only 10,000 yen (US$128) a month! There’s just one catch, it’s haaauuunted…
…by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Yes, this house stands in Ainokura district, Nanto City which is part of the larger Historic Villages of Shirakawa-gō and Gokayama which UNESCO has deemed a World Heritage Site.
This ultra-quaint area is littered with charming houses with unique (for Japan) A-framed thatched roofs designed to keep off the heavy snow-falls in the areas. Looking like it was lifted out of a fantasy novel or role playing game, it might be the perfect place to get away from it all.
The reason why homes in this area are so cheap in spite of it being declared a World Heritage Site is because the previous owners all DIED…
…when they saw great deals in urban areas and moved out there. It’s not unusual for this spot, which has been experiencing a steady decline in population due to its inconvenient location. In 1990 Ainokura had 87 residents living in 25 homes. As of 27 September that number has slid to 52 people in 17 households.
This particular house was donated to the city by its previous owners. The city is hoping to keep its population afloat so someone can maintain the area.
Unfortunately this house isn’t one of the cute one’s with thatched roofs (see below), called “arms in prayer design,” but is not too shabby either. It has two stories, seven rooms with a total of 198m2 of floor space.
The city also put in 3,440,000 yen (US$44,000) worth of renovations and plumbing work, including all western toilets and enough parking space for two cars. All in all, it doesn’t look like you’re going to get hoodwinked on this deal.
However, the line about being haunted by UNESCO might not be entirely a joke. Given that you would be living on a World Heritage Site there are probably more than a few regulations you must live by. I’d imagine you’d probably have to leave your Thin Lizzy posters and lawn flamingos behind.
■ Shirakawa-go in Summer (via hatabear)
■ Shirakawa-go in Winter (via Flikr)