The hollowing out of suburban Japan is real. Lured by the appeal of major cities like Tokyo and Osaka, young Japanese continue to relocate. And as they do, rural Japan continues to fall into disrepair. It’s a vicious cycle and so much history and culture is at stake.
But where rural Japan lacks in modern amenities and convenience it more than makes up with through its charm and rich heritage. And the key to getting people to go out and discover that charm lies in storytelling. One group that particularly excels in that storytelling is Hinui Hitohi.
Hinui Hitohi (日貫一日) literally means “1 day in Hinui”, with the latter being a small hamlet in Japan’s Shimane Prefecture. Spearheaded by the Osaka-based design firm UMA, the initiative brings together architects, designers, chefs and other creatives to revitalize the small town by renovating a series of vacant townhouses and transforming them into a one-of-a-kind experience that immerses guests in the local food, environment and crafts of the area.
Hinui Hitohi is made up of 2 separate structures. First is Ichiyu, designed by Masaki Kato, which acts as the reception area for guests. Originally a small factory, the building was renovated using wood from a local school that had closed down. Next is Yasuda-tei, designed by dot architects, which serves as the actual guest house that can accommodate up to 6. The townhouse is the former home of Katashi Yasuda, a local architect who designed Shimane’s prefectural government building.
Making reservations are all done through the Hinui Hitohi website (unfortunately it’s all in Japanese). Prices are 15,000 yen pp / night. Meals are an additional 4000 yen but you can opt out of them if you want. The website also offers various local activities like pottery classes and noh mask painting.
If you’re looking for something off the beaten path, this sure looks lovely.