A Platform for Living

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photos by:
April 6, 2011

Setsumasa and Mami Kobayashi’s weekend retreat, two and a half hours northwest of Tokyo, is “an arresting concept,” photographer Dean Kaufman says, who documented the singular refuge in the Chichibu mountain range. “It’s finely balanced between rustic camping and feeling like the Farnsworth House.”

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  One North Face tent sits atop a deck; another caps the main building, which contains a kitchen and dining area.  Photo by: Dean Kaufman
    One North Face tent sits atop a deck; another caps the main building, which contains a kitchen and dining area.

    Photo by: Dean Kaufman

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  A view of the mountains from the village of Kawakami, en route to the Kobayashis’ property.  Photo by: Dean KaufmanCourtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010
    A view of the mountains from the village of Kawakami, en route to the Kobayashis’ property.

    Photo by: Dean Kaufman

    Courtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010

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  The long, lean Kobayashi complex includes a bathroom and storage room in the structure on the far right.  Photo by: Dean KaufmanCourtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010
    The long, lean Kobayashi complex includes a bathroom and storage room in the structure on the far right.

    Photo by: Dean Kaufman

    Courtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010

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  The rooftop tent can be accessed from the interior via a wooden ladder or—for the more athletic—via a series of wall-mounted climbing holds, made by Vock and carved from persimmon-tinted hardwood.  Photo by: Dean KaufmanCourtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010
    The rooftop tent can be accessed from the interior via a wooden ladder or—for the more athletic—via a series of wall-mounted climbing holds, made by Vock and carved from persimmon-tinted hardwood.

    Photo by: Dean Kaufman

    Courtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010

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  The couple stockpiles wood under the deck.  Photo by: Dean KaufmanCourtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010
    The couple stockpiles wood under the deck.

    Photo by: Dean Kaufman

    Courtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010

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  Trans­lucent fiberglass panel walls form a permeable, fiber-reinforced plastic membrane between indoors and out.  Photo by: Dean KaufmanCourtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010
    Trans­lucent fiberglass panel walls form a permeable, fiber-reinforced plastic membrane between indoors and out.

    Photo by: Dean Kaufman

    Courtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010

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  Setsumasa and Mami Kobayashi are ready for adventure.  Photo by: Dean KaufmanCourtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010
    Setsumasa and Mami Kobayashi are ready for adventure.

    Photo by: Dean Kaufman

    Courtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010

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  Mami and Ishii Hideaki (a friend and .......Research employee) prepare lunch in the cozy main building. The room is rustic and utilitarian, with a double-decker wood-burning stove, tons of open storage, and a sink fashioned from galvanized buckets. But there’s an underlying high-design ethos: The wire baskets are handmade classics from Korbo, a Swedish company, and what looks like a paper-wrapped box in front of the stove is actually a leather cushion by Japanese artist Nakano.  Photo by: Dean KaufmanCourtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010
    Mami and Ishii Hideaki (a friend and .......Research employee) prepare lunch in the cozy main building. The room is rustic and utilitarian, with a double-decker wood-burning stove, tons of open storage, and a sink fashioned from galvanized buckets. But there’s an underlying high-design ethos: The wire baskets are handmade classics from Korbo, a Swedish company, and what looks like a paper-wrapped box in front of the stove is actually a leather cushion by Japanese artist Nakano.

    Photo by: Dean Kaufman

    Courtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010

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  A view of the surrounding tree canopy.  Photo by: Dean KaufmanCourtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010
    A view of the surrounding tree canopy.

    Photo by: Dean Kaufman

    Courtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010

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  Inside one of the Kobayashis' North Face tents.  Photo by: Dean KaufmanCourtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010
    Inside one of the Kobayashis' North Face tents.

    Photo by: Dean Kaufman

    Courtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010

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  Scenes from a weekend in the woods feature many .......Research products, including camping cookware and striped wool blankets.  Photo by: Dean KaufmanCourtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010
    Scenes from a weekend in the woods feature many .......Research products, including camping cookware and striped wool blankets.

    Photo by: Dean Kaufman

    Courtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010

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  Designed by Shin Ohori of General Design Co., the structure—Setsumasa bristles at the word “house,” since his desire was for something that “was not a residence”  Photo by: Dean KaufmanCourtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010
    Designed by Shin Ohori of General Design Co., the structure—Setsumasa bristles at the word “house,” since his desire was for something that “was not a residence”

    Photo by: Dean Kaufman

    Courtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010

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  Food is served in traditional camping cookware.  Photo by: Dean KaufmanCourtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010
    Food is served in traditional camping cookware.

    Photo by: Dean Kaufman

    Courtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010

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  Setsumasa and Hideaki toss on the rain fly. The solar panel in the foreground supplies daytime electricity.  Photo by: Dean KaufmanCourtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010
    Setsumasa and Hideaki toss on the rain fly. The solar panel in the foreground supplies daytime electricity.

    Photo by: Dean Kaufman

    Courtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010

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  A stockpile of wood sheltered from the elements.  Photo by: Dean KaufmanCourtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010
    A stockpile of wood sheltered from the elements.

    Photo by: Dean Kaufman

    Courtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010

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  Mami and Goo the Kishu dog return from a frolic in the forest, which the couple, along with Hideaki, has thinned and trimmed back over many weekends. It’s an idyllic escape and a world away from the concrete expanse of Tokyo.  Photo by: Dean KaufmanCourtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010
    Mami and Goo the Kishu dog return from a frolic in the forest, which the couple, along with Hideaki, has thinned and trimmed back over many weekends. It’s an idyllic escape and a world away from the concrete expanse of Tokyo.

    Photo by: Dean Kaufman

    Courtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010

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  When the Kobayashis arrive, first step is unloading their truck.  Photo by: Dean KaufmanCourtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010
    When the Kobayashis arrive, first step is unloading their truck.

    Photo by: Dean Kaufman

    Courtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010

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  Even in cold weather, they open the sliding doors to let the fresh air in.  Photo by: Dean KaufmanCourtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010
    Even in cold weather, they open the sliding doors to let the fresh air in.

    Photo by: Dean Kaufman

    Courtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010

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  The building that shelters their bathroom also contains a large pantry and storage closet, filled to the brim with camping and outdoor gear.  Photo by: Dean KaufmanCourtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010
    The building that shelters their bathroom also contains a large pantry and storage closet, filled to the brim with camping and outdoor gear.

    Photo by: Dean Kaufman

    Courtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010

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  A peek inside the bathroom, where a raised topographic map doubles as reading material and travel inspiration.  Photo by: Dean KaufmanCourtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010
    A peek inside the bathroom, where a raised topographic map doubles as reading material and travel inspiration.

    Photo by: Dean Kaufman

    Courtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010

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  The yellow North Face tent looms over the top of the main building.  Photo by: Dean KaufmanCourtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010
    The yellow North Face tent looms over the top of the main building.

    Photo by: Dean Kaufman

    Courtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010

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  Setsumasa Kobayashi reclines on a striped wool blanket from his 2010 'Horse Blanket Research' line.  Photo by: Dean KaufmanCourtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010
    Setsumasa Kobayashi reclines on a striped wool blanket from his 2010 'Horse Blanket Research' line.

    Photo by: Dean Kaufman

    Courtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010

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  A weekend visitor packs up his gear in the morning.  Photo by: Dean KaufmanCourtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010
    A weekend visitor packs up his gear in the morning.

    Photo by: Dean Kaufman

    Courtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010

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  Weekends at the retreat are relaxed, consisting mostly of chopping firewood or sitting around the fire pit on the deck.  Photo by: Dean KaufmanCourtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010
    Weekends at the retreat are relaxed, consisting mostly of chopping firewood or sitting around the fire pit on the deck.

    Photo by: Dean Kaufman

    Courtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010

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  The dreadlocked Ishii Hideaki grins at the gate to the Kobayashi's property.  Photo by: Dean KaufmanCourtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010
    The dreadlocked Ishii Hideaki grins at the gate to the Kobayashi's property.

    Photo by: Dean Kaufman

    Courtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010

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  The ultimate luxury: a hot bath in the clawfoot tub, with the fiberglass door open wide to the woods.  Photo by: Dean KaufmanCourtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010
    The ultimate luxury: a hot bath in the clawfoot tub, with the fiberglass door open wide to the woods.

    Photo by: Dean Kaufman

    Courtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010

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  Hideaki and Goo the dog scout the scene.  Photo by: Dean KaufmanCourtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010
    Hideaki and Goo the dog scout the scene.

    Photo by: Dean Kaufman

    Courtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010

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  A solar array (on the left-hand side of the photo) powers the lights and outlets (and laptops) during the day.  Photo by: Dean KaufmanCourtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010
    A solar array (on the left-hand side of the photo) powers the lights and outlets (and laptops) during the day.

    Photo by: Dean Kaufman

    Courtesy of: Dean Kaufman 2010

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