As Japan’s population continues to fall the country is left with a unique problem: empty homes. These places can become troublesome for neighbours but one man is trying to change this and give new life to the empty homes of Japan.
In Japanese, an empty home is called ‘akiya.’ As the population of Japan decreases and more people move to metropolitan hubs this issue is ever increasing. It is said that there are 8 million empty homes across Japan! Often these homes fall into disrepair and become ugly in the eyes of those nearby. Sometimes the problem can be even worse. As many homes are built of wood in Japan without the care they need, they become mouldy or damaged and attract pests. In Japan it is the norm for each new resident to demolish the house, or the home of their ancestors, to build anew. This may sound like a peculiar problem if you live in the UK or US where over 90% of homes bought are second hand. This means that more and more houses are being built whilst more and more homes lie empty. One man, Katsutoshi Arai, had an idea to change that.
Katsutoshi Arai came up with a novel idea to help stem the tide of abandoned homes. He will purchase an empty home directly, either from people who have inherited the land or when they are vacant. Katsutoshi Arai will then fix up the home, laying fresh tatami mats, fitting new kitchens and making the home beautiful. And he seems to be quite successful too! This may be due to the fact that as the home was not a new build it can be sold at a cheaper price. Sometimes this will actually mean that buying a home is more affordable than renting! This is really starting to work for Katsutoshi Arai and his estate agency, Katitas (カチタス). Katitas are transforming the old and forgotten houses and making them a home for new buyers.
Hopefully combined with new laws banning the abandonment of homes, Japan can soon become a country free of akiya!
Katitas Website (Japanese only)