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Why build a house in rural Japan?

Rural Japan is arguably one of the worst places in the world to invest in the housing market. Buildings are said to lose their value completely after 20 years, and then you’re only left with the land it’s on for anything worth anything. In many cases I’ve seen this is true at least to some extent. Buildings that have been built well still keep some value, although that value is almost never as much as the price it cost to build it. So, why am I choosing to build here?

Well, if you’re going to be living here for the long-run, like I am, it makes economic sense. Although our rent is cheap (and our cost of living too), the reality is it’s only marginally more per month to get out a loan. That’s probably the biggest point, that compared to renting over the long term, it’s cheaper. Then you get all the benefits of building your own house. Houses in Japan are notorious for lacking sufficient insulation, it’s actually quite horrendous when you see what people are paying to live in. So, I have the chance to build something air-tight that keeps all the warmth in.

One other benefit, which rather big in my eyes, is that I can make things to my size. Although the standard height for a kitchen in Japan might seem only slightly lower than that in NZ (850mm v 900mm), it’s actually quite a marked difference, especially for someone who is 186cm tall. The same thing goes for things like the shower height, the height of tables, and the height of bathroom sinks. Not having to lean over to put my head into the shower or whenever I want to look in the mirror is a pretty big advantage for me. Which reminds me, I might need to see what we can do about the toilet… but I digress…

One other biggie is that we will build extra rooms and an extra ensuite for us which means that we can maintain our privacy and host people (I’m thinking university students), and can earn extra income to pay off the house.

When you look at it that way, buying over the long-run is cheaper than renting, I can build things to suit me, and we can earn money. Sounds good to me! Now if only the upstart costs weren’t so expensive…

Tim Bunting Kiwi Yamabushi


Hi, I’m Tim Bunting AKA the Kiwi Yamabushi, a New Zealander who became a Yamabushi Ascetic in the Dewa Sanzan mountains of north Japan. I’m part of the Yamabushido team, and we host life-altering Yamabushi training on the Dewa Sanzan (website link). People come to us for the ultimate mindfulness experience, to reach the next level, or simply connect with nature and themselves.

I’m on a mission to summit all 100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata Prefecture to spread the splendour of this fabulous location, and in dedication to all those who lost their lives out in nature, including my father.

On my daily blog I post thoughts of a practicing Yamabushi that I hope people can use to better themselves and live as fulfilling a life as possible.

Sign up to the weekly Mountains of Wisdom newsletter, follow me on social (Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, TikTok, Clubhouse, all @kiwiyamabushi), or send me an email via the link below to stay in touch.



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Sakata City, Yamagata, Japan 


All photos my own. Contact for more. 

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