Government seeking to acquire and preserve historic villas in Oiso

The Japanese government is considering converting several privately owned historic villas in the coastal town of Oiso into a public park. The project may include acquiring the properties and restoring them so that they can be opened to the public.

The proposal covers a 6 hectare site including the Sorokaku Villa, former Ikeda Shigeaki Residence, former Okuma Shigenobu Residence, and former Mutsu Minemitsu Residence.

The properties are owned by private companies and not currently open to the public. Some of the homes, which are unused, have fallen into various states of disrepair over the years. The government may consider purchasing the buildings and land from their owners and has set aside 27.3 billion Yen (approx. 240 million USD) in the national park’s budget for the project.

Historic Kudan Kaikan redevelopment plans announced

On September 21st, the Kanto Local Finance Bureau announced that Tokyu Land had won the competitive bidding process for the redevelopment of the Kudan Kaikan building in central Tokyo. The bidding price will be announced after Tokyu signs the contractural agreement in March 2018.

The developer will lease the 8,700 sqm block of land under a 70-year fixed-term and will build a high-rise office tower on the site. The north-eastern corner of the original Kudan Kaikan building will be preserved and retrofitted using a base-isolation system (menshin-kozo).

100+ year old convent to be converted into luxury hotel

On July 31, Mori Trust announced that they have acquired the historic former Maria-en Catholic nursery school in Nagasaki. Mori will restore the 119-year old building and convert it into an internationally-branded luxury hotel targeting wealthy foreign tourists with an opening scheduled for around 2022. Mori Trust operates 21 hotels across Japan, and this will be their first venture in the Kyushu region. The seller was the Minami Yamate-kai social welfare corporation.

Kobe Maya Hotel seeking national heritage listing

A non-profit organisation is seeking donations to help preserve the 88-year old Maya Hotel and prepare it for a potential national heritage listing.

The art deco hotel was built in 1929 on the hills overlooking Kobe City. It has been closed since 1993 and has been left to rot and fall into ruin. In 2016, a local group obtained permission from the owner, an Osaka-based real estate company, to open it up for public tours.

Historic Atami Villa sold to developer

On June 13 Mori Trust announced that they have acquired the historic holiday home of Taneji Yamazaki (1893-1983) in Atami City for an undisclosed price. Yamazaki was a successful businessman, founding several trading companies, including one which is now SMBC Friend Securities. In 1966 he founded the Yamatane Museum of Art in Tokyo, which was the first museum to feature only Japanese paintings.

The Yamatane-ryo was built in 1936. It is located just north of Kinomiya Station and about a 15 minute drive from Atami Station. It is a peaceful hillside neighbourhood with a history dating back over 1300 years. The 8,300 sqm (89,000 sq ft) property has views of Atami Bay, Hashima Island as well as the numerous firework festivals held over the bay throughout the year. Although the purchase price was not made public, similar properties in the Atami area are extremely rare and can fetch upwards of 1 billion Yen (approx. 9 million USD+).

Nara prison hotel to open in 2020

The 109-year old former Nara Juvenile Prison in Nara City will be converted into a hotel by 2020. On May 26, Japan’s Ministry of Justice announced that a group of 8 companies, led by Solare Hotels and Resorts, was the successful bidder for the project.  A total of 3 groups submitted bids back in January.

The prison was built in 1908 and is the only surviving example of the Five Prisons of the Meiji era. The red brick prison was designed by architect Keijiro Yamashita. Yamashita worked for the Ministry of Justice from 1897 to 1930, and designed many prisons across the country.

88-yr old building on 2.6 hectare site in Minato to be sold

Japan Post Insurance is selling their former Tokyo Service Center building and land in Mita, Minato-ku, Tokyo. The potential sale price and date has yet to be confirmed, although it is expected that the property will be offered for sale by tender. With land of this size, the eventual sale price is likely to be in the 10s of billions of Yen (several hundred million USD).

Japan Post Insurance expects to report a capital gain of 30 billion Yen (approx. 270 million USD) on the sale, which, given their very long history of ownership of the property, may be a close indicator of their preferred sale price.

The property is located along the street from the Australian Embassy and directly across the street from the historic Tsunamachi Mitsui Club – a members only club that was built in 1913 for the Mitsui family.

The Art Deco building was once theMinistry of Communications and Transportation Postal Life Insurance Building. It was constructed by Obayashi Corporation in 1929 at a cost of 4,350,000 Yen. In those days the annual salary of a doctor was around 4,800 Yen.

2.2 Traditional machiya houses in Kyoto are demolished each day

Two renovated machiya by Kazuya Morita Architecture Studio.

Kyoto City is losing its traditional machiya townhouses at an alarming rate, with an average of 2.2 of these symbolic houses demolished each day.

On May 1, Kyoto City announced that approximately 5,600 machiya have been demolished over the past seven years. In 2016, a survey found that there were 40,146 surviving machiya in the city.

Of the surviving machiya, 14.5% are vacant and not occupied by owners or tenants, an increase of 4 points from the previous city survey in 2009. Kyoto City’s vacancy rate across all types of housing was 14% in a 2013 survey.