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Experience island community and the beautiful natural views of the south.

Here at Tokyo Sharehouse we’ve showcased houses all the way from Hokkaido down to Kyushu, and now we’ve gone even further - Okinawa!

To date I have personally visited sharehouses in Kanto, Hokuriku, Tokai, Shikoku and Cambodia, experiencing the merits of share life through my own eyes by interacting with the locals of each area.

This time, my first trip to Okinawa coincided with great t-shirt weather. I walked around town captivated by the distinct stone-walled buildings and unique vegetation, falling in love with my surroundings.

Also, everyone involved in sharehouse management here is extremely hardworking and serious about what they do. They are earnest and single-minded in creating better environments, reading book after book on sharehouses, and even going all the way to Tokyo to check out other share properties and network with companies there. That said, these managers are not just recreating what they have learned from books, but developing houses that mesh with the Okinawan land and climate with the knowledge they have gained from personal experience.

Let’s have a look at some Okinawan-style sharehouses!

   
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Live in relaxed, languid comfort surrounded by natureKokopelli House(An Ishigaki island sharehouse)

Ishigaki is a popular getaway destination visited many by travellers each year, and in recent years has also seen an increase in long-term residents. This sharehouse was built in Ishigaki in January, 2012. The property is relatively unknown, yet is gaining attention as there is currently no vacancy. I was lucky enough to stay here for 2 nights and 3 days, and I will write up a report on my experience in the near future.

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This is the shared living and dining area, its classy decor creating a polished atmosphere. The house is kept beautiful and clean by the management.

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Watching television at night gathered around the table like a family. Events such as welcome parties are often held in the house.

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Many houses here are reinforced concrete constructions built to withstand Okinawa’s typhoon season, however this is house is made of wood. The high ceiling creates a spacious environment.

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The manager works as a computer teacher, loves plants, and has extensive knowledge on a variety of subjects.

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Two chihuahua sisters live here, too, welcoming you home and helping you to relax after a long day.

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Fresh and clean space created by architectural designer.Shuri House

While the exterior of this house is a tough structure perfect for the Okinawan climate, the interior is simple and comfortable in design. The house is located in town and close to social infrastructure such as a department store and post office, making it a great place to live for people new to Okinawan life. Free trial ‘stays’ and migration advice is available for anyone interested in moving in. You could live a short plane ride away to Shuri castle and the other World Heritage sites on mainland Okinawa.

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The living and dining area is a simple space with a white color scheme. Look up something on the internet when you need to with this conveniently provided communal computer.

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The kitchen has everything you need, including a microwave. Everything was nice and clean when I visited - maybe the housemates here are always clean up after themselves?

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The living room exits out onto a wooden deck and garden. Come out here on a sunny day for a change of pace.

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And of course what house in Okinawa would be complete without Shisa statues.

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Hotel-like private rooms are comfortable and pleasant. Residents staying longer than 6 months will be provided with a blanket free of charge.

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Support for child-raising and fun-filled days in a friendly neighborhood.Grow Jogaku

This is the first child-rearing support sharehouse for mothers in Okinawa, it’s doors open for Okinawan residents as well as migrants to the island. The divorce rate in Okinawa is the highest in Japan, and the broad-minded Okinawan people have a relatively understanding opinion about divorce. This house is located within walking distance to preschools and elementary schools, easing the pressure of the morning and afternoon school runs. Come spring a new housemate will bring her children from Kanagawa prefecture to live here.

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The shared areas have been spaciously designed to help the children in the house live and play happily, with splashes of color here and there to please them.

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At the idea of the manager, who has three children himself, the house provides services such as babysitting and dinner preparation to help busy mothers.

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One great thing about this sharehouse is that by living with other families, your children will create sibling-like relationships with the other kids in the house.

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There is a great big table for everyone to sit around and eat dinner together, and of course tableware is also provided.

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Bathroom, laundry and toilet facilities are also complete, and with a bathtub in the house you’re prepared for when your child comes home covered in mud.

 

In Japan April is the season of moving house, the new school year and new working environments, and as we are halfway through the month I am sure everyone is starting to get familiar with their new acquaintances and surroundings. It’s that season where everyone is trying to remember new names and faces, and it’s the same kind of atmosphere for sharehouses in Okinawa. While shared living is thriving in Tokyo, it’s only only just beginning to gain recognition in Okinawa.

That being said, speaking with both the management and residents of sharehouses here, there is less of a distinction between ‘creator’ and ‘inhabitant’ and more of an effort to build up a community while enjoying life together. With plans of building sharehouses on Miyako island the industry can only go up from here. Many people are migrating to Okinawa, and with sharehouses as motivation to move to the islands it is entirely possible that new encounters and connections never experienced before will be created here.

Sharehouses have the potential to connect island locals with people from mainland Japan, and I hope more houses are developed in Okinawa in the near future.

/Author:Watanabe

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