The Community-Run Cedar House by Airbnb and Go Hasegawa Welcomes Guests in Rural Japan

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By Jonathan Simcoe / Published by Dwell
Now available to book through Airbnb, Yoshino Cedar House serves as a shared space for the rural community of Yoshino, Japan, and its visitors.

The project debuted in 2016 as a collaborative vision between Airbnb's design studio Samara, which explores new ways to foster sharing and trust within communities, and Tokyo-based architect Go Hasegawa for Kenya Hara's House Vision exhibition.

A quote from the Yoshino Cedar House website sums up the ethos of the project:

Every detail of the structure inspires connection to the people of Yoshino and their underlying traditions.

The Community-Run Cedar House by Airbnb and Go Hasegawa Welcomes Guests in Rural Japan - Photo 1 of 12 - Bound books reveal detailed plans for bringing the Yoshino Cedar House to life.

Bound books reveal detailed plans for bringing the Yoshino Cedar House to life.

A rural town in the Nara prefecture of Central Japan, Yoshino faces an aging population and urbanization—both of which have diminished the community and its viability. Along with urbanization comes the threat of losing ancient traditions—something that puts communities like Yoshino in a difficult place. Just a few decades ago, the population was double what it is today, with most citizens working in sustainable forestry. Today, the town is propped up by tourists who come to see the region's annual spectacular of cherry blossoms.  

This project aims to preserve the cultural traditions of Yoshino, galvanize its economy, and connect the community to its visitors in a way that reflects the uniqueness of this small village.

The imprint of Yoshino's DNA extends even to the building materials used for the project. The cedar wood used in the house was all sourced and milled locally, a sustainable solution that also imbues the structure with a unique story.

The Community-Run Cedar House by Airbnb and Go Hasegawa Welcomes Guests in Rural Japan - Photo 2 of 12 - From the foresters, to the woodcutters, to the carpenters, and finally to the host, the townspeople have been integral to the life of the Yoshino Cedar House. Here, a worker is seen splitting and preparing cedar planks for use.

From the foresters, to the woodcutters, to the carpenters, and finally to the host, the townspeople have been integral to the life of the Yoshino Cedar House. Here, a worker is seen splitting and preparing cedar planks for use.

The Community-Run Cedar House by Airbnb and Go Hasegawa Welcomes Guests in Rural Japan - Photo 3 of 12 - Long beams are prepared by workers in a Yoshino factory, ready to be taken and used at the building site.

Long beams are prepared by workers in a Yoshino factory, ready to be taken and used at the building site.

The Community-Run Cedar House by Airbnb and Go Hasegawa Welcomes Guests in Rural Japan - Photo 4 of 12 - Workers prepare cedar planks for use in Yoshino Cedar House.

Workers prepare cedar planks for use in Yoshino Cedar House.

The structure is characterized by the near-ubiquitous use of warm-hued, local cedar. The effect creates nuance in layers as angles and light interact with the same wood grain to create intricate patterns.

The Community-Run Cedar House by Airbnb and Go Hasegawa Welcomes Guests in Rural Japan - Photo 5 of 12 - The stacked outer eaves set in warm cedar contrast the cool, neutral grays of the Yoshino sky.

The stacked outer eaves set in warm cedar contrast the cool, neutral grays of the Yoshino sky.

The layered wood pattern continues inside the structure and promotes a sense of unity and peace—reflecting the desire of the space to be a unique reflection of, and connection to, the people of Yoshino.

The Community-Run Cedar House by Airbnb and Go Hasegawa Welcomes Guests in Rural Japan - Photo 6 of 12 - The ground floor doubles as a collective living space where locals and guests can gather. This unique built-in dining table is recessed into the floor, giving the room and table a seamless and inviting effect.

The ground floor doubles as a collective living space where locals and guests can gather. This unique built-in dining table is recessed into the floor, giving the room and table a seamless and inviting effect.

The Community-Run Cedar House by Airbnb and Go Hasegawa Welcomes Guests in Rural Japan - Photo 7 of 12 - The intricacy of the roof paneling can be seen in this close-up detail of the ceiling.

The intricacy of the roof paneling can be seen in this close-up detail of the ceiling.

The Community-Run Cedar House by Airbnb and Go Hasegawa Welcomes Guests in Rural Japan - Photo 8 of 12 - The open airy design of the stairway is revealed—creating a unique pattern that is reflected in staircase railings and vents.

The open airy design of the stairway is revealed—creating a unique pattern that is reflected in staircase railings and vents.

The Community-Run Cedar House by Airbnb and Go Hasegawa Welcomes Guests in Rural Japan - Photo 9 of 12 - The open staircase is seen here from the front—showcasing the dynamic lines that converge at the top of the stairway leading to the bedroom space.

The open staircase is seen here from the front—showcasing the dynamic lines that converge at the top of the stairway leading to the bedroom space.

The Community-Run Cedar House by Airbnb and Go Hasegawa Welcomes Guests in Rural Japan - Photo 10 of 12 - The bedroom space is backlit by a unique "A" shape that provides ample natural light—reflecting the cedar's warm, patterned tones.

The bedroom space is backlit by a unique "A" shape that provides ample natural light—reflecting the cedar's warm, patterned tones.

The Community-Run Cedar House by Airbnb and Go Hasegawa Welcomes Guests in Rural Japan - Photo 11 of 12 - Looking down the stairway from above reveals another view of the "A" shape of the upper floor with contrasting angles created by light and shadow.

Looking down the stairway from above reveals another view of the "A" shape of the upper floor with contrasting angles created by light and shadow.

* * *

The Yoshino Cedar House is an entrepreneurial creation that aims to revive the local community while fostering new relationships between hosts and guests. Locals support the maintenance of the residence and the house can be rented via Airbnb—the proceeds of which go directly back to support the community of Yoshino.

The Community-Run Cedar House by Airbnb and Go Hasegawa Welcomes Guests in Rural Japan - Photo 12 of 12 - The community hub rests on the riverbanks of the Yoshino River.

The community hub rests on the riverbanks of the Yoshino River.


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