The beautiful Yoshino Cedar House, located near Osaka, was built by local carpenters and craftsmen with sustainable cedar harvested from the nearby mountains. The community-run retreat was created through a collaboration between Airbnb designers, Samara and architects Go Hasegawa. The team sought to foster the local community while providing a much-needed source of income for the town.
The cedar retreat’s design was part of the 2016 event, Kenya Hara’s House Vision, an exhibition that showcases community-led housing projects that aim to help small towns boost their economies. Like a lot of rural areas in Japan, the small town of Yoshino has an aging population that is dwindling by the day. For years, the town’s principal industry was sustainable forestry, but without young workers working to enter the workforce, the town’s only economic boost these days is its annual cherry blossom festival.
From the start of the Cedar House project, the architects and designers worked with locals every step of the way. Local foresters, woodcutters and carpenters collaborated on the process, from harvesting and cutting the timber to its construction. According to the architects, the design of the Yoshino Cedar House, which is technically owned and operated by the community, was meant to pay homage to the area’s local traditions as well as foster new relationships between residents, “Every detail of the structure inspires connection to the people of Yoshino and their underlying traditions.”
Located on the bank of the Yoshino River, the structure is clad on the interior and exterior in warm-hued cedar planks whose intricate patterns create a calming, peaceful environment. The bottom floor, with a single table built into the floor, houses the living and dining space. An open staircase leads to two separate bedrooms on the second floor. The simple, uncluttered rooms have one mattress and a small table and are beautifully illuminated by natural light coming through the structure’s A-frame window.
Since its inauguration, local townspeople take care of the Airbnb retreat‘s rental operation and all proceeds are used to support the community.
Photography via Airbnb