New life for old homes in Onomichi

Miharashi-tei Onomichi 1

On the hillside leading up to Senko-ji Temple in Onomichi City, Hiroshima, sits an old wooden house built between 1921 ~ 1923. Despite being registered as a national tangible cultural property in 2013, the historic home had been left empty to rot on the hillside for decades.

Luckily, a local non-profit organisation have stepped in to restore the old property and convert it into a guesthouse. Repairs will start this month, with completion expected by February 2016.

The house had previously been used as a traditional ryokan called ‘Miharashi-Tei’.It was designed with a lot of glass windows to take full advantage of the views of the Onomichi Channel and town below. It sits alongside a path leading to the Senko-ji Temple.

The Taisho-period Japanese style architecture of the home forms an important part of the landscape of the hilly streets leading from the water front to the temple above.

The house was originally built as a holiday villa. Between 1969 and 1989 it was operated as a traditional inn, but has sat empty ever since. In 2009, the owner of the property – a real estate company from nearby Fukuyama City – registered the house with the Onomichi Akiya Saisei Project. The program seeks to match the owners of unused homes with people who want to restore and re-use them.

However, the 200 sqm (2,150 sq ft) house was considered too large for private buyers and finding a new owner proved difficult.

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