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.
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 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 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.
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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.