Sustainable homes and LOHAS lifestyles have become catch phrases of our generation. Many green goods have come available recently as producers are catching on to consumers’ demand for a more ethical and environmentally responsible economy. The astounding sales rate of the Toyota Prius and the appearance of organic foods in most supermarkets is proof of this trend. And at last house builders and developers are beginning to create truly healthy homes with the eco features we crave.
Many new homes are being advertised as ‘eco,’ but what truly makes a house environmentally friendly? More than just a few solar panels on the roof, a sustainable home should encompass modern ideas in usability with traditional comforts. Many simple solutions are available, but finding a home that includes them all can be a challenge. One company that is attempting to bring all of these elements together is the Earth Embassy’s Eden Homes, which uses non-toxic interiors made from all natural materials, passive solar windows and superior insulation for low cost heating, yard space for gardening, barrier free rooms for open communicative lifestyles, and more.
In the quaint village of Shojiko Lake, a hidden gem on the foot of Mt. Fuji, the Eden Homes team is offering another beautifully restored classic Japanese farm house for people looking to find some peace and quiet in the Yamanashi mountains. This minka style home from the Edo period has been updated for a modern lifestyle with a deck, sunroom, heated floors, new lighting, and other additions. The large, bright kitchen has cherry beech floors and open views of the garden and pond. A unique cedar bath and cedar lined bathroom is made for soaking and relaxing. While being supremely comfortable and user friendly, the home retains its traditional charm with massive exposed beams, finely polished to a warm glow over generations of care and use.
Shojiko Village is less than two hours from downtown Tokyo, and about 20 minutes from Kawaguchiko. The small communities of the Mt. Fuji Five Lakes region have been quietly developing in recent years with cafes, organic farms, local breweries, outdoor sports operators, homes and new wineries springing up in the alpine villages amongst the picturesque lakes.
New residents have been coming to restored homes in Shojiko Lake in recent years, finding the village location ideal for weekenders looking to relax and reboot within an easy jaunt from the city, and also telecommuting families looking for a little piece of farming space in the garden. Fiber-optic cable is scheduled to reach the area within the year, making the village even more sought after and increasing property values (meaning this is not a bad time to buy).
The current five bedroom house being offered by Eden Homes is reasonably priced considering the size and features. Ideal for families or entertaining guests, the first floor can be opened completely into one large space, or divided into private rooms. A spacious second floor loft can be used as an artists studio, yoga space, playroom or any number of other purposes. Off of the loft space, a catwalk leads to a private tatami room with large windows above the garden and a view of the lake. A traditional irori fireplace sits in the center of home, kept in its original state with a tea pot ready to go and surrounded with antiques and treasures from the village’s history. The 1,400m2 lot sits on a stone wall promontory overlooking the village and Lake Shoji, with a classic Japanese garden and also adjoining land for parking and farming.
More than just a structure, a truly sustainable home must also provideresidents with the tools to be self sufficient. The Earth Embassy also runs education programs to teach organic farming, cooking and small eco-business development, as well as offering field rental and training workshops for budding agriculturalists at the rustic Solar Cafe & Farm at the foot of Mt Fuji. The cafe serves an amazing variety of home grown fruits, berries, herbs and vegetables from the fields, and is open seasonally (reservations recommended).
For reservations and workshop information at the Solar Cafe & Farm, see www.earthembassy.org