Hiroki Horiguchi started Reivalue Inc. in 2018 to support local neighborhoods at risk of losing their population. Japan is currently facing a problem of an ageing population with a low birth rate, which is resulting in small neighborhoods decreasing in favor of large cities with more opportunities. A declining population in a particular area also results in abandoned properties (akiya), and there has been a recent drive for providing incentives such as lowering the cost of land and the building to encourage people to take ownership and revive the properties. The goal is that by renovating akiya properties in suburban neighborhoods at risk of decline, and focusing on international visitors, to provide a much needed boost to local communities.
Experience Local Japanese Life at a Gorgeous Guesthouse
Skip the hotels and dive into the Japanese way of life by living like a local. The Sano San Chi Project by Reivalue Inc. offers guesthouses in local neighborhoods for rent to international visitors, so that people from around the world can have an immersive experience.
How it Started
The Sano San Chi Project
Reivalue started the Sano San Chi Project, which aims to take over akiya buildings and renovate them into a modern guesthouse with the conveniences of a boutique hotel, while keeping elements of traditional Japanese-style housing, such as the use of tatami mat flooring. The project moved forward from concept to reality through crowdfunding online. The funds raised allowed them to open the first guesthouse.
There are currently 10 guesthouses spread across the Kansai region, with seven properties located in the Senshu area. One of the closest properties to Kansai International Airport is the Waraku property, which is located in Izumisano City, and only two stops away from the airport at JR Hineno Station.
Waraku, a guest house that is part of the Sano San Chi Project, was built in 1980, and recently renovated in April 2019. It is ideal for small groups and families looking for a large property for a mid-term or long-term stay. The property comes with on-site parking areas for two vehicles, which can be closed off using a gate or a shutter for extra security. The bedrooms are spacious and luxurious, complete with traditional tatami flooring. Large sliding doors can be manipulated to create large rooms, or to section the space into smaller rooms, allowing for up to 18 people to stay.
The accommodation has purposefully not been fitted with items that might be considered distracting, such as gaming equipment, so that guests are able to experience a traditional Japanese lifestyle. However, a living room with a TV is available for families and groups to socialize. The large kitchen is complete with cooking utensils, ideal for those who want to shop locally and cook using famous Senshu vegetables. A large Japanese-style garden is at the front of the property, in which guests can relax. The property also has one bathroom and two toilets for the convenience of larger groups.
The surrounding vicinity is a quiet neighborhood with local residents. As part of the experience of living like a local, the guesthouse places a heavy emphasis on being considerate and respectful to the surrounding residents during your stay.
Bicycle rentals are included with all stays, and are ideal for exploring the local area. The bikes are mamachari, single-gear bikes commonly used by residents for commuting and shopping purposes.
Cycle over to the nearby Kita Shouji Sake Brewery to get a factory tour with tasting experience at the end, for only ¥500 per person. Visitors must be at least 20 years old, and bookings are required at least one week in advance.
There are plenty of small Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines dotted around the neighborhood, void of any crowds expected at popular sites such as in Kyoto and Nara. Take a stroll or a gentle bike ride to see how many you can find in the area! The Izumisano Hilly Green Space nearby offers a chance to visit a local with some nice walking paths through nature.
JR Hineno Station offers express train services to Osaka City in under 40 minutes (and to Kyoto in 90 minutes) for those wanting to explore more of the major sites while staying in a local neighborhood. The vicinity around the station also offers some fantastic dinner options and local supermarkets. Be sure to check out Mi-Chan no Takoyaki to try the local Osaka specialty of octopus in a ball of delicious fried batter.
The accommodation can organize private or group tours for customers with advance notice. An event that is popular with many international guests is the Japanese flower arranging (ikebana) experience with an expert.
Other properties in the Senshu area are available for a range of different budgets. Head to their website to find out more about other options. English and Chinese speaking staff are also on hand to support international visitors.