A new site called “Kominka Net” is providing a listing service for owners of empty Japanese farmhouses (or kominkas) to offer them free of charge as temporary accommodation to evacuees of the March 11 Tohoku Earthquake, Tsunami and Nuclear Disaster.

Over 100 old traditional homes from all across Japan are listed on the site.

For home-owners wishing to donate their property:

Owners can submit the details of their property to Kominka Net whose volunteers will review the home. If it meets the criteria (eg. if it is in suitable condition and does not pose any risk to occupants), it will be listed on the website.

For evacuees looking for accommodation:

Residents affected by the tsunami or earthquake must present their disaster victim certificate issued by the local municipal authorities. Residents from Fukushima Prefecture must submit their certificate of residence and identification.

Matching service:

Once a suitable home is found, the evacuee will sign a contract with the landlord. Any moving costs, water and electricity bills are the responsibility of the evacuee. Kominka Net has volunteers across Japan who assist with introducing homeowners to the evacuees but Kominka Net is not able to assist with preparation of rental contracts. They can, however, introduce real estate agents who can draw up the necessary documents.

Some of the kominkas offered for rent free of charge include:

Artist’s Residence:

This home in Aichi Prefecture would be suited to a ceramic artist who has been displaced and would like to get back to their creative work. The house comes with its own climbing kiln (nobori gama). The house was renovated in 2007. It is located near the Uregawa River and the small Kakidaira train station which only sees about 21 passengers a day. This was the setting of the 2001 movie, Firefly Dreams (Ichiban Utsukushii Natsu), by John Williams. The 4-bedroom house can accommodate 2 adults and up to 3 children.

Location: Yoshigataki, Toyooka, Shinshiro City, Aichi Prefecture
Age: Unknown (moved to its current location 30 years ago)
Pets: OK
Term: More than 6 months possible

Large family home in Gunma:

This kominka in Minakami Town, Gunma Prefecture, is large enough for an extended family. The 2-storey house is over 120 years old. The owner is hoping the tenants will be able to take care of the small farming field.

Location: Minakami Town, Tone District, Gunma Prefecture
Age: 120 years old
Pets: Not allowed
Term: More than 6 months possible

Renovated Kominka in Fukui:

The house was previously used as accommodation for university students majoring in agriculture. Tableware and bedding is provided and high-speed internet is connected.

Location: Mitsumori, Oi Town, Oi District, Fukui Prefecture
Age: Unknown
Pets: OK
Term: More than 6 months possible