The Omoya (main house)
The historical name of our main building is Uegake, which means “perched above.” This name is fitting because this traditional Japanese farmhouse is perched part way up a mountain. Uegake is equipped with a spacious, bright yellow kitchen, offices for our staff, and three washitsu (tatami rooms) that function as guest rooms by night and living areas by day.
The genkan or front entrance to the house is dominated by a wood burning stove for winter heating and cooking. The wood stove is a step toward getting us off the grid and, when it’s cold outside, attracts everyone in the house to huddle around and commune. The floor in the genkan is made of tile, concrete and dirt, reflecting various stages it has gone through.
We have three nonflush toilets—two Western, one Japanese. Our septic tank is emptied regularly, but when we learn how, we hope to compost this waste.
The water that comes out of our faucets comes straight from a well—safe and delicious. We are just up the road from a spring that provides water to a local prize-winning sake brewery.
Optical fiber wifi is available throughout.
The Naya (barn)
The naya was originally a barn with tools, supplies and stalls for two oxen. At this point, three rooms in the naya have been renovated as staff bedrooms and dormitories for campers, retaining the rustic charm of the large beams and mud walls.
The washroom, also located in the naya, includes our washing machine, bath and shower. The shower draws from a solar water heater. When we don't get enough sun, we can use water heated by electricity. The bath can draw water from the solar or electric heater, but we usually heat it in the traditional way with a wood fire. We recycle bathwater into the washing machine. Wifi is also available in the naya.
Behind the naya, we have converted a storage shed into a loft and cafe area (kissaten in Japanese) with direct access to our pizza oven. In the warmer months, we often have pizza parties here while enjoying the view of the valley.
The Hanare (mother-in-law suite)
The hanare is an add-on to the omoya that houses staff, but also has a dark, cool room where members of the local community make tsukemono (pickles)! The ponds behind the hanare will soon have fish in them.
The Kura (storehouse)
The kura is a thick-walled, locked keep traditionally used to store valuables, including the year’s rice harvest. For that purpose, it has a metal room that mice can’t get in. The kura has two floors, one of which will be converted into a library and the other a food storage facility where we will sell products from our fields and workshops.
The Koya (shed)
Down by the road, separate from the omoya, is the koya, a long shed with many rooms. One of these rooms has been converted into a storage room for the fire wood we use for heating in the winter. Others include a garage for our vehicles, a room for our tools, and a space where we measure vegetable harvests and make chicken feed.