Buying a mountain in Japan

Generally speaking, whether you are Japanese or a foreigner, it is possible to buy and own mountainside forest in Japan.

70% of Japan is forest. According to the Forestry Agency, 40% of that is national forest, with the remaining 60% owned by private individuals and companies.

There is a trend for companies to buy forestry for the purpose of corporate environmental responsibility. Some of the larger land-holders include Sumitomo Forestry (40,000 hectares), Tokyo Electric Power Company (6,200 hectares), and Japan Tobacco (1,023 hectares).

How is the land priced? Considerations behind pricing are not that different from normal real estate – location, convenience, size, road access, views, and any other appealing points such as bordering onto a river or stream.  Prices can start from as little as 150,000 Yen (approx. 1400 USD) to well over several hundred million Yen (several million USD).

Who is selling it? Typical sellers include either elderly owners that have no use for it or family members who have inherited it and, again, have no use for it or desire to hold onto it. 

Who is buying it? In many cases, the buyers are city folk who want a peaceful nature reserve for hiking or camping. 

What are the drawbacks? Many mountainous properties don’t have modern comforts such as town water, electricity or sewerage. Depending on zoning, construction may not be allowed, meaning a holiday house, hotel or resort cannot be built. Some districts may be protected forest or park, which means trees cannot be cut down.

How can I buy these types of properties? There are companies that specialize in selling mountains. The biggest one has sold over 1,000 properties. However, they are careful who they sell to and won’t sell to buyers looking to acquire water sources.

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