Most Tokyoites live in cramped apartments, travel on crowded trains and work in high-rise buildings—you don’t need us telling you that life in a big city can easily feel claustrophobic.

Texan expat Theodore Jennings felt the same way; so he decided to do something about it.

Looking across the city from his Shinjuku apartment he had an epiphany—he realized Tokyo is rich with millions of unused spaces—hidden under most people’s noses: the humble balcony.

“Life in the big city can easily feel claustrophobic.”

When Jennings lost his job in the financial sector after the Lehman shock, he finally had the time to use his creativity to pursue a long held passion; and Vacation Veranda was born, “I decided I wanted to start a company, but the market crash finally gave me the push I needed,” he says.

Jenning’s balcony renovation company is doing well, attracting both Japanese and foreign clients—so far he has redesigned 15 balcony’s across the city.

This isn’t just about gardening though, as well as provided a calm, relaxing space, redesigning your veranda can help save energy too.

“By creating a ‘green curtain’ outside, you reduce heat inside,” says Jennings, which of course means less need for air conditioning and therefore cheaper energy bills.

As climate change continues to make summers hotter and the government’s “super cool-biz” and setsuden, inititives bring energy conservation to the mainstream, more and more people are thinking about personal electricity usage.

“Redesigning your veranda can help save energy too.”

Jennings may be on the verge of something big here: with some 13 million residents in Tokyo—that’s a heck of a lot of balconies. (Jennings estimates some 6 million!).

With local municipalities offering cash-back incentives to residents and the word “eco” on everone’s lips, Jennings may need to hire a few more ex-bankers to lend a him hand.

Veranda designs cost between ¥100,000 and ¥1 Million and a small veranda can be converted in just a weekend.

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