Part I: What is “The Other House”?

“The Other House” is a SUMIKOMI style accomodation, created by a imaginary German-descent character called “Theodore Haus”. It’s a place for motivated individuals, nomads, and anyone interested in Japanese culture or people in general gather, learn and creat experiences together.

Everyday rural life with great nature just 2-3 hours from Tokyo

For most travelers, the Izu Peninsula is just a trip that you would pass by on your way to Kyoto and Osaka. However that 100km strech just south of Mt. Fuji has many wonders to offer.

Izu Peninsula by Satoko Ushijima

Things you should know about Izu

UNESCO World Heritage “Geopark”

Basically the whole peninsula is a natural heritage for its unique lanscape, and has been acknowledged by UNESCO as having international geological significance!

You can check more about the Izu Peninsula Geopark on their official website. Izu Peninsula Geopark

 

Iwachi Area in Matsuzaki Town, Izu Peninsula, Shizuoka Japan.
Beach Torii in Shimoda area, Izu Peninsula, Shizuoka, Japan
Aireal view by NASA of the Izu Peninsula. Roughly 400,000 people live in this 100km strech of land, that used to be as the same latitude as the Hawaii islands.

Favorite getaway for important figues in Japanese history

Home to onsen (japanese hot springs) and vast nature, this has become a  favourite getaway, or retreat spot, for famous characters, sport players and writers. People like Tamori (let’s say he’s the Japanese David Letterman..), Yasunari Kawabata, has deep affairs with this mystical island. The guy sitting next to you at a Izakaya might be a important character in modern day Japanese culture.

Yasunari Kawabata, author of “Izu Dancer”
Ryoma Sakamoto, a n improtant figure for the Meiji Restoration revolution. Portrait by Kunisawa Shinkuro

 

“A home away from home” and a place to experience the old traditional Japanse “nichijo

Ever since the first Tokyo Olympic in 1964, Japan has experienced tremendous technological advancements and flourished it’s culture up until the end of the last century, and still going on even after the new millenium. You might be aware of the all the electronics, automotives, high-tech house gadgets (washlet toiletes, rumba, tiger & zojirushi rice cookers, SONY walkman) and of course cultural assets like food, manga, anime, and video games. Not to mention that in every corner of every town you can see many Shinto shrines, buddhist temples and other religious symbols, right next to the modern side of society. But how were the Japanese people able to create all of this…? This is probably a question all travelers and also the Japanese in their minds.

After 20 years of study, I came to a theory, that it must be subtle, and hidden within the everyday lives of the Japanese people; the 22 keywords are Nichijo and Atarimae.

Rice-transplanting Festival in Katori-jingu
Enjoying fireworks in the summer is a communal activity as well as something commonly enjoyed by private individuals (there are no legal restrictions for fireworks in Japan)

What is Nichijo, and Atarimae

日常(nichijo) and あたりまえ(atarimae) are the two concepts to be explored in this project. These are two concepts practiced in the Japanese culture, yet there are no direct translations for the two words in English.

日常(nichijo) n. –  …. simply put, this means a Japanese everyday life. A habitual routine with a meaning behind it.

あたりまえ(atarimae) adj. – …. something in between “common sense” and “a priori”… closer to “the way” in the Chiniese philosophy of Taoism. Meaning something that each individual or collective has as a “sensible knowledge”…

As one side of Japan, is known for strong discipline, maybe through books like “Bushido” by Nitobe Inazo. The other side is a more laid back daily routine, which are fundamentally based upon the ideas of atarimae and nichijo. Personally I’d like to call the two concepts as “old-school Japanese culture and values”.

Atarimae and nichijo that lies in Japanese culture today, are the selected practices of everyday Japanese life that has probably been practiced for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Paying close attention to the everyday lives of people are the key to understanding the mystery and secret behind Japanese culture.

 

 

You can check out the video for more general idea about TOH. (Video by Kevin G. Co-Founder of Otaku Spirit Sessions)

 

Part II: Concept and How it all started

The concept behind the name

I was always always amazed with how intricate and even overly sophisticated the Japanese culture was. Although being born to Japanese parents, who also had long lineage of being born Japanese, it was hard to understand the culture with my limited amount of knowledge and experience.

In rural Japan, there are many places where traditions and values are “untouched”, meaning it’s at it’s purest… or very authentic. When the word “tradition” is mentioned,it doesn’t always have to be about crazy rituals and festivities that is diffilcut to understand. It’s the ”和(wa)”  or “Japanese culture”. With the current hype of people learning Japanese culture, I decied to borrow help from all kind of avid travelers and Japanopiles from around the world to join me in this long term research about the Japanese culture.

Yes. It’s a global confusion. “Confusion” meaning “con(with)” “fusion(collaboration)”.  I decided to put everyone in one small Japanese sized  house join me in this quest…. however as you can imagine…. I, myself was already in a “confused” state. So one day this girl Avril (aka the French-Swiss-army-knife-girl) came up with the great name and the basic concept, and design about the house. We just happened to meet at a guest house lobby in a town called Yugawara.

So that’s how “The Other House” became “The Other House” for all the visitors around the world.

 

Avril Cute Crap “The French swiss army knife girl”
Some mysterious notes and formula Avril was using to come up with the concept.
Me (Rob), the current janitor of the house, more like a wannabe digital-hermit wannabe, I somehow try to organize this project while making everything fun for guests.

Current status

Since the start of “The Other House” in April 2018, we have had over 100 guests from more than 30 countries world wide, each staying an average of 1-2 weeks. We have had video editors, bloggers, engineers, students, photographers, divers, and ofcourse a lot of otakus and Japanophiles.

You can check out List of Activities for some of the past acitivies in the house.

Affiliations and partnerships

The Other House has been affiliated or mildly been affiliated with the following entities.

  • Higashiizu Town Chamber of Commerce
  • Higashiizu Town Muninicpality Office
  • 1DesignLab (Tokyo, China)
  • Tokiwa Tatami Workshop (Higashiizu)
  • Monozukuri OET (Higashiizu)
  • Otaku Spirit Sessions (Sailor Team x Kitty Studios)
  • Atami Kaiju Festival

Donations and contributions :

​To fund the house, we ask you to stay at our house during a our guesthouse phase (about 1/3 to 1/2 of the year) or come stay as a friend to work on various kinds of communal volunteers and projects.

If you are generous we are always happy to receive donations.

Shimoda Beach
soucrce: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tenaciousme/2779944645

 

Copyrights 2018. The Other House

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