There are very few chances in a lifetime to buy a modernist home in Japan, and opportunities are going to become even more limited in coming years as these homes are gradually demolished by their owners. Although most are sold for land value with little to no market value placed on the structures themselves, these homes are irreplaceable.
Two homes by modernist architect Yoshimura Junzo are currently on the market in Kanagawa Prefecture. One is an oceanfront home just south of Hayama, and the other is a mountain-top home in Kamakura.
| SHONAN AKIYA RESIDENCE
The Akiya Residence was built for a Tokyo resident in 1966. The oceanfront home looks directly out to Sagami Bay and towards Mt. Fuji.
The 5-Bedroom house is divided into two separate living spaces – a 2-Bedroom wing on the western side and a larger 3-Bedroom wing on the eastern side. All rooms have been designed to look out onto the wide span, south-facing terrace which offers incredible views of the ocean.
Although it is a 2-storey home, there is only one room on the 2nd floor. The living areas are primarily located on the ground floor. In addition to the five bedrooms, there are two living areas, two kitchens and four bathrooms. There is driveway parking and a 1-car garage.
The property is essentially being sold for the land only, and earlier sale listings had offered the land in two subdivided parcels, with the house to be demolished. The total size of the land is 632 sqm (6,800 sq ft).
The sale is for the land with an existing structure (the Yoshimura Junzo house), with no warranty provided on the house. Given the age of the building and its proximity to the sea, the house does need some attention.
The property is being sold ‘tenanted’ as it is currently rented to a tenant under a fixed lease which is due to expire in early 2016.
About the area:
The house is part of the Yokosuka City jurisdiction, but the Akiya area is a small beachside neighbourhood just two kilometres south of the historic and extremely wealthy holiday home area of Hayama, which is part of the Shonan area.
The house is just outside of the tsunami risk area for tsunamis between 1 ~ 10 meters.
Black and white images via https://www.facebook.com/info.by.MSRllc/
| KAMAKURAYAMA RESIDENCE
This is a 2-storey house in the historic Kamakurayama neighbourhood and is 3.6km east of Kamakura Station. It offers views towards Sagami Bay, Enoshima and Mt. Fuji.
In addition to the Yoshimura-designed house, there is also a separate tea house designed by Nakamura Sotoji Koumuten. Nakamura (1906-1997) was a specialist carpenter who achieved fame after designing a tearoom for Konosuke Matsushita, the founder of Panasonic. Nakamura often worked on projects together with Yoshimura and architect Arata Isozaki.
The property is currently privately owned but not in use. A restoration is also required.
No floor plans are available and there are no interior photos of the main house. Any interested buyers must be screened before being allowed to inspect the property.
About the area:
The exclusive Kamakurayama neighbourhood was first developed as a holiday home area in the late 1920s and early 1930s by Tsusai Sugahara (1894 – 1981), an industrialist and famous ‘fixer’. The hillside area offered ocean views and easy access to Tokyo. With generously sized land parcels (the minimum size was approximately 1600 sqm) and water, electricity and telephone lines, the neighbourhood was immediately recognised as a high-end and sought-after address. Some of Japan’s elite politicians, industrialists and celebrities soon built villas in these hills, and it is still home to some of Japan’s wealthiest individuals. Past residents have included former Prime Minister and Prince Fumimaro Konoe, and singer Yoshie Fujiwara. Following WWII, several of the grand residences were temporarily confiscated by the occupying forces.
The hillside area is approximately 100 meters above sea level and poses no tsunami risk. Most of the area is forest.
About the architect
Yoshimura Junzo (1907-1997) was a highly regarded architect both in Japan and abroad, having worked for the Rockefeller family and the Imperial family.
After studying architecture at the Tokyo University of the Arts, he began his career working in Antonin Raymond’s office. In 1940, he transferred to Pennsylvania for two years. While in the US he oversaw the installation of a tea house at the Japan Institute in New York City. When he returned to Japan in 1941 he established his own architectural firm.
In 1953 Yoshimura was asked to design a tea house in the New York Museum of Modern Art’s garden. The house has since been moved to Philadelphia.
In 1955 he worked alongside modernist masters Kunio Maekawa and Junzo Sakakura on the International House of Japan in Roppongi.
In 1968 he did the basic designs for the new Imperial Palace.
In 1974 he designed the Pocantico Hills Residence for the Rockefeller family, which was furnished by his friend, famed woodworker George Nakashima. He had previously designed a tea house for the Pocantico Hills estate in 1964.
Yoshimura’s surviving works continue to be admired today.