Come as a guest, Go as a friend.
The first back-pack journey of Michio Yunoki, the CEO of Little Japan,
was more than ten years ago during his university summer break.
The journey was from Kobe, his hometown, and the ship headed to China.
Shige-san was a singer he encountered on the ship to China during his two nights and three days journey on the sea.
Then Michio encountered Shige-san’s song, “Come as a guest, go as a friend.”
It is Michio’s special memory that he traveled together with Shige-san in China and met again in Japan.
Story of LittleJapan
After this journey, Michio started to enjoy other journeys with random “friends”
he happened to meet at his destinations in addition to just visiting touristy spots.
He has fallen love with these freestyle journeys and has visited more than 40 countries,
deciding where to go on the day, such as touristy spots, local markets nearby, and so on.
Enjoying these journeys with new encounters,
he started to wonder if he could have his own place filled with lots of new encounters.
Without realizing his idea, nine years,
however, flew after he started to work at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries of Japan.
Utilization of an Abandoned House
Little Japan is a hostel made out of an abandoned house, which is a great resource.
What is the difference between resources and trash?
The representative of Little Japan, Michio, thinks that it is whether people need them or not.
While the population of Japan is decreasing, the number of houses are increasing in Japan.
There are more residences than needed not only in local communities but also in Tokyo,
and how to deal with abandoned houses is a social issue now.
Yunoki Iron Works which used to be run by the great-grandfather of Michio Yunoki is now abandoned.
Michio’s fear of his generation having tons of abandoned venues in the near future
drove him to study about the abandoned house issue.
Realizing that it was not a mere issue one person could solve,
but a big issue the society as a whole should tackle,
he established a NPO “Social Artist Village” and started his activities.
Utilization of Old Resources
In cooperation with craftspersons painting walls and assembling furniture,
Little Japan was built DIY.
More than 300 people in total joined the building-up Little Japan process.
This was actually a troublesome order for craftspersons.
Building with citizens in the DIY style needed more time and cost.
It, however, was important to build a community and network of those who engaged in the construction,
designing an abandoned venue, which was a hidden resource in the city,
and thinking about the construction process with all our hearts,
instead of merely making a beautiful architecture out of an abandoned venue.
Interior is not just new but mix of new and old, having a remnant of the old building.
Making Someday Today
Little Japan was born from tying an abandoned house issue to Michio’s wish to have his own place
filled with new encounters someday.
But maybe the abandoned house issue was Michio’s excuse to make a leap forward,
and he just wanted to have his guest house.
He hopes Little Japan will be a place for many people to have special experiences.
Japan’s Charms for Foreign Travelers
We believe that a guest house has infinite possibilities.
Some Japanese may say they want foreigners to understand good things of Japan.
It, however, may be the hard sell on foreign guests whose cultures and tastes can be totally different from Japanese.
In order to provide services and goods needed, utilizing local community resources,
it is the first step that Japanese hosts understand who from which countries love what about Japan
and why he/she decided to come to Japan.
Talking with travelers who love Japan at Little Japan every day,
we, the staff members, seek to convey charms of Japan to overseas.