Almost like a work by the Spanish architect, Onomichi’s ‘Gaudi House’ features an individualistic, elaborate design with added roofs, etc.
A building from the early Showa period (1926-1989), it had been vacant for 25 years when in 2007, a group from Onomichi started its renovation. It’s still a work in progress, but apparently in 2013 it was designated as one of Japan’s tangible cultural properties!
As well as the ‘Gaudi house’, we visited some of Onomichi city’s (Hiroshima prefecture) other renovated houses and the people charmed by them.
Can you spot the shop signboard on an old building in a courtyard at the end of a very narrow alley?
“Welcome!” The person welcoming us with a smile is Ayako Kurimoto, the owner of 56 café, which she runs on the 1st floor of the Sangenya Apartments, a short walk from Gaudi house.
The apartments, which have also been renovated, are home to various shops such as a massage salon, a ceramic arts studio/ classroom and a fabric retailer. I’d like to take a look around… is what I was thinking when Michiko Ogata, from the manamana massage salon, who happened to be at the café, offered to show me around.
That’s Ms. Ogata, right in the middle. She is a very openhearted person who likes to share the charms of the building with visitors. The other people in the picture include another friend from the apartment (front) and the visitor (back)!
On the 2nd floor there is even a flea market.
Standing back to back with Sangenya Apartments is Kitamura Yohinten (‘yohinten‘ refers to a store that handles Western style apparel and accessories). Since its renovation, it’s been used as a shop for various goods and as a salon for mothers who visit with their children.
Masako Toyoda, who runs the incorporated NPO Onomichi Vacant House Restoration Project on the 2nd floor of Kitamura Yohinten, is the leader of restoring Onomichi’s vacant houses. Starting with Gaudi house, she has restored 16 so far.
Originally from Onomichi herself, Ms. Toyoda started the project in 2007 to save the townscape.
“In 2016, we plan to restore a vacant registered cultural property that rivals Gaudi house,” she says.
Ms. Toyoda is blowing new life into Onomichi day by day. Now might be the most interesting time to visit…
Alias the Onomichi Gaudi House
Address: 9-17 Sangenya-cho, Onomichi city, Hiroshima prefecture
Homepage: http://www.onomichisaisei.com/bukken.php?itemid=183 (Japanese)
Address: Sangenya Apartment room 102, 3-26 Sangenya-cho, Onomichi city, Hiroshima prefecture
Closed: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays (Also closed on 11th, 16th, 17th & 18th of May 2015)
Homepage: http://56cafe.onomichisaisei.com/ (Japanese)
manamana Hawaian lomi lomi (massage) Salon
Address: Sangenya Apartment West wing room 102, 3-26 Sangenya-cho, Onomichi city, Hiroshima
Open: 10.00-17.00 (Please check the latest information on business hours on the Facebook page below)
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/ハワイアンロミロミサロン-manamana/1429377237281840 (Japanese)
Address: 3-23 Sangenya-cho, Onomichi city, Hiroshima prefecture
Homepage: http://www.onomichisaisei.com/bukken.php?itemid=18 (Japanese)
Onomichi Vacant House Restoration Project
Homepage: http://www.onomichisaisei.com/ (Japanese)
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Izumi Furukawa
Izumi Furukawa Hello. My name is Izumi Furukawa and I was born in Kagawa Prefecture. Before getting married in 2012, I wrote for various magazine companies and Internet based media organizations in Tokyo. After marrying, I moved to Hiroshima and am now raising my child as well as writing stories about my fascination with this area through Setouchi Finder. Most of the articles I write are about places I visit on weekends with my family. My favorite driving course is Route 375 from Saijyo to the Miyoshi Area, and my favorite food from the Hiroshima area is Anagomeshi (from Miyajima)!!
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