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.

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.

Former Sanki-en Estate in Kamakura for sale

Kamakura Land 4

Price: 230,000,000 Yen
(Approx. 2.25 million USD)

 

This is a large 7,600 sqm block of residential land in Kamakura that was originally the estate of Tsusai Sugahara (1894-1981), a famous Japanese industrialist and developer Japan’s first tollroad which ran between Ofuna and Enoshima in the 1930s. In 1929, Sugahara relocated a grand samurai residence dating from the 1620s to this land to be used as his personal residence.

After his passing, his wife operated the house as a high-end restaurant called Sanki-en for several years. The restaurant closed over 15 years ago and the building fell into ruin. The building was purchased by a local company and carefully relocated off-site over the span of 12 months in 2014. It is now an Italian restaurant called Trattoria Mokichi in nearby Chigasaki.

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. 

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.

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.

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.