Jiro Osaragi’s former residence in Kamakura on the market

On October 9, the Kanagawa Shimbun newspaper reported that the former residence of author Jiro Osaragi (1897-1973) in Kamakura is for sale. The 100-year old traditional thatched roof house is designated by the city as an important scenic structure. The owners are hoping to find a buyer that will continue to preserve the culturally significant and historic home.

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Renovating a historic home in Kamakura may soon become easier

Kamakura

Kamakura City is considering introducing an ordinance that would allow owners of historic buildings to bypass some of the regulations under the Building Standards Act that normally apply for renovations, extensions and changing the use of a property.

When making structural additions or alterations to older buildings, it can be very difficult to make the building comply with the Building Standards Act while still retaining the original features. In many cases property owners simply give up and either rebuild or leave the property to deteriorate. As a result, the neighbourhood begins to lose its character over time as the older properties are demolished.

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Buying real estate in Kamakura – a quick overview of building restrictions

Kamakura 2

Located between the mountains and sea, Kamakura is an ancient city located 50 km south of Tokyo. The city came to prominence in the 12th century when it was home to the Kamakura Shogunate. Unlike some of the more urban cities in Japan, Kamakura has retained much of its traditional character. The city is characterised by its traditional streetscapes, numerous temples and shrines, and lush mountainside. In fact, 40% of the city is forest and greenery.

Nowadays, much of this character is preserved through numerous strict building and zoning codes enforced by the city, along with efforts by local residents.

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Historic Kamakura villa to be donated to city

Murakami Residence Kamakura 3

The owner of the historic Murakami Residence in Kamakura’s Nishimikado neighbourhood is preparing to donate the residence and land to the city. Based on the land size, the property would have a market value of approximately 420 million Yen (approx. 4 million USD).

Although official records have been lost, the traditional Japanese house is estimated to have been built sometime prior to 1939. In 1941 the residence was acquired by Chosuke Murakami. The house was later inherited by Murakami’s wife, who, prior to her passing in 2014, had requested that the house be donated to the city. She also made arrangements to leave 10 million Yen (97,000 USD) in cash to go towards the maintenance of the property.

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Two Yoshimura Junzo-designed modernist homes for sale

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 (Update: Both have since sold). One is an oceanfront home just south of Hayama, and the other is a mountain-top home in Kamakura.

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Off-market listing in Kamakura

Price: 330,000,000 Yen
Land: 4,178 sqm

We have been offered an unusually large land listing in Kamakura this month. It is an acre of mostly flat land in an old, wealthy neighbourhood just 1,200 meters north-east of the famous Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu Shrine grounds. Sample house plans have been drawn up, and the estimated total cost* for the land with a 400 sqm designer home amounting to around 580 ~ 630 million Yen (approx. 4.69 ~ 5.09 million USD).

This is a peaceful residential neighbourhood with lots of greenery. It would suit someone looking for a private setting that still offers convenience.

It is located 30 meters above sea level and 3km inland from Yuigahama Beach. It is well outside of the tsunami hazard zone according to the city’s 2013 hazard map (maps can be downloaded from the city government page here).

The Nishimikado address has been a historically desirable address in Kamakura. It is located just to the north-east of the Kamakura Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of National Treasures, and the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu – Kamakura’s most important Shinto Shrine.

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99-year old residence in Kamakura opened to public for first time

Koga Residence Kamakura 3

A historic residence in Kamakura that was once the holiday home of former Prime Ministers Fumimaro Konoe (1891 – 1945) and Osachi Yamaguchi (1870 – 1931) has been repaired and converted into a French restaurant and wedding function centre. This historic, privately-held home had been closed to the public until now.

The Koga Residence was built in 1916 as a villa for Seijiro Sho (1862 – 1926), the managing director of Mitsubishi. In 1937 it was purchased by Mr. Koga, a manager of Nippon Tochi-Tatemono, and has been in the Koga family ever since.

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Hope for Kamakura’s modernist museum

Museum of Modern Art Kamakura

One of Japan’s exemplary models of modern architecture – the Museum of Modern Art, Kamakura – now stands a chance at being saved from demolition after a recent structural analysis found that it could be reinforced against earthquakes.

The Kanagawa Prefectural Government is also in discussions with the landowner, the nearby Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu Shrine, to seek an extension to the land lease.

In late 2013, it was reported that the prefecture decided against renewing the lease due to the high costs of maintaining the buildings and the anticipated costs of retrofitting. The prefecture announced plans to close the museum at the end of March 2016. Under the terms of the lease, any buildings were required to be demolished before returning the land to the Shrine.

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Historic former library in Kamakura to be demolished

Former Kamakura City Library

On January 5, Kamakura City announced plans to demolish a historic property that was originally the Kamakura City Library, and until recently had been used as a training center.

The 2-storey wooden building was completed in 1936. It is located between the Onarimachi’s local city office and the Onari Elementary School and is 200 meters west of Kamakura Station. Aside from a brief period during the war when it was confiscated by the military, the building had been was used a library until 1974. Afterwards it had been used by the city’s Board of Education for a variety of uses.

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Kamakura Museum of Modern Art at risk of demolition

Kamakura Museum of Modern Art 1

The Museum of Modern Art, Kamakura & Hayama is facing possible demolition as the prefecture has decided not to renew the land lease with the landowner (the nearby Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu shrine). The prefecture’s difficult financial situation has meant that they cannot continue to operate the museum and it is scheduled to close at the end of March 2016.

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