Tech meets tradition: Revitalizing a community with Nara’s Yoshino Cedar House

Translation by Saori Morita

“Technology × Tradition.”  While it’s an oft-explored concept, the collaboration of “Airbnb × Yoshino Cedar” aspires not to merely pique interest, but to revitalize an aging community. The result of the tag team is Yoshino Cedar House, a warm and stylish community Airbnb built out of Nara’s famous Yoshino cedar.

Of course, anyone is welcome to stay at this beautiful lodging. What makes it special is that it’s Airbnb’s first-ever attempt to have an entire community act as the host for guests.

An opportunity to delve deeper into
the world of Yoshino

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While demand for Airbnb continues to grow on a global scale, Airbnb-style lodgings are not as prevalent in Japan. Still, this was the first Airbnb in the world to fully utilize the support of local artists and craftsmen, as well as to set up a community fund for the area. It was built in hopes that it would become a way for travelers to delve deeper into Japanese culture as we approach the year 2020. Profits from the Yoshino Cedar House will go to the Yoshino Host Community to help preserve the region’s local communities and World Heritage Sites.

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The Yoshino Cedar House was created under the collaboration of Airbnb design studio Samara, Japanese architect Gō Hasegawa, and the cooperation of Yoshino residents. The house not only brilliantly shows the traditional skills of local carpenters and craftsmen, but is also located right along the Yoshino River.

Surrounding areas are rapidly depopulating, and 600 units out of 4,000 households in the region are vacant, 200 of which are inhabitable, according to the Yoshino town council. For this reason, the main targets of the Yoshino Cedar House are young, Airbnb-friendly travelers.

Interacting with the local community

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The first floor of the Yoshino Cedar House is an open living room area complete with a long table, where locals can come and enjoy some food and tea, with even a space for children to play. On the second floor are two loft-type rooms. They’re spacious enough for up to seven people to spend the night.

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A charm that goes beyond the house

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The Yoshino Cedar House is indeed marvelous, but there are a plethora of other sights to see around it. You can revel in the beauty of the Yoshino River stretching out across the land, or you might be invited by a local to explore the nearby forests lush with Yoshino cedars. You can also visit breweries where you can enjoy locally brewed Japanese sake, try some Masuzushi (trout sushi) made with trout from the Yoshino River, and many other gastronomic delights you won’t find anywhere else. To top it off you can treat yourself to a traditional souvenir made by a local craftsman, like chopsticks made from local Yoshino cedar.

But above everything else, the main attraction of the trip are the new encounters awaiting each visitor. At the Yoshino Cedar House, you’ll not only encounter the friendly locals, but an entire region abundant in culture and hospitality.

Who knows — a trip like this just might revolutionize the way you travel to local spots.

Licensed material used with permission byYoshino Cedar House
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