Have you ever wanted to live on a river, in the mountains, close to a ski hill, have a garden to grow your own food in complete privacy but with the warm of a local community? It’s here in Yukiguni.
Mountain life – enjoy delicious clean water, the best rice in Japan, monkeys, kamoshika, cranes, 4 seasons, a garden and a beautiful modern Japanese / Western home created to specifically enjoy all that yukiguni has to offer.
And all 90 minutes to Tokyo by Shinkansen.
The home was purchased in the summer of 2005.
It was an old second home that had largely been neglected for years. It desperately needed a re-build to make it a real long-term home.
The house did have one amazing original feature however the Minka living room.
A Minka (民家) is essentially an old Japanese farm house that is characterized by one large room with an Irori (囲炉裏).
After two years of just living here and considering renovations and how to live in Dojima Shinden, a local architect was hired to create the perfect space.
The most important factors for a re-build were:
Keep the Minka and make it a Great Room. It’s spectacular and the whole family can be in the same room comfortably;
The kitchen and Minka would have an open flow concept. Again, the family can be together during cooking, playing and doing homework;
A big wooden deck to live outside. From late April to late October you can dine and relax outside. The access is easy from the Minka and being outside viewing the garden, the forest, the mountains is the greatest of pleasures here;
A second living room. On the second floor a big space was created for children to play or for relaxation. It’s warm in the winter and cool in the summer because of the trees and the breeze. Children can watch videos or play lego or read on the very big bench or make a lot of noise. No problem, no neighborus!
Green room. Facing south on the second floor is an area for plants and seedlings. There’s a terrace too which is wonderful in the summer and fun in the winter (you can toboggan from the second floor!!);
And maybe most importantly, natural finishing. The most expensive part of the rebuild was the high-end surface finishings. Synthetic laminated floorings and doors were avoided in favour of the real thing. The feel of real walnut on the bare soles of your bare feet is wonderful – you are grounded.
Other features included, a modern Lixil ofuro (bath) – of course. A chef’s kitchen with a modern large hi-tech oven and range, a walk-in closet with a freezer and lots and lots and lots of storage space that you can use as you please.
Essentially, the house was an old Japanese farm house made into a modern, comfortable Japanese farm house with a western interior.
GARDEN & YARD
The vegetable garden is on the east side of the house and facing south.
The size is approximately 150 sq. meters.
The soil has been improved organically each year and now the vegetable garden is able to produce wonderful crops of a great many vegetables including corn, tomatoes, cucumbers. beans, eggplant, pumpkin, rhubarb, peas, beats,
There are also standing bushes of blackberries and raspberries to make jams and pies.
And, herbs like chamomile, fennel, mint, basil, oregano, Italian parsley, sage and more.
And of course grapes and walnuts that just become more delicious as the plants age.
The rest of the property (excluding the garden and the house) is 1400 sq meters and is divided into different areas for enjoyment.
There is the vineyard and a small gazebo area for picnics to give you that estate feel.
There are several flower gardens throughout the property as well as a camp fire spot where you can enjoy the nights as fireflies pass by.
And of course, the giant walnut trees that provide wonderful cool shade in the hot summer and deliver delicious walnuts in the autumn.
Yuniguni life is delicious and relaxing.
Living in nature, living in the mountains your backyard is the biggest playground in the world. There is literally something for everyone to do.
There are many ski hills in the area including one in our village.
Children love being outside and it becomes their natural state. They collect and study insects and frogs; find eggs and snakes skins, make friends with genkos, feed the birds….There’s life everywhere and it’s a the best classroom you could ever have.
Oh…there’s a campfire area too that is always fun for roasting marshmellows and of course, night sky visibility is unhindered but light pollution so you see so many shooting stars during the August persaid meteor-shower that you eventually grow tired. Can you imagine shooting stars becoming common place in your life?
Minami Uonuma is famous for it's Koshikikari rice. The temperature and long growing season during the summer provide the perfect conditions but the most important ingredient is the delicious water. The heavy snows of the winter provide for life in the summer when the river runs full of the purest water you can find anywhere. Try making your own beer – you will never drink Sapporo or Kirin or Asahi again – it is the best beer you will ever have. Seriously.
Or, you can just sit outside on the deck and stare into the greens of the forest. So many shades of green you never knew existed; and shades changed daily. And of course, the mountains with their white snow caps are there to keep you company.
Spring comes in March but it takes weeks for the snow to melt. But the weather is gorgeous and great for cross-country skiing and biking.
Wild flowers throughout the property announce that spring is here.
Pick mountain vegetables and get your garden ready for Golden week. It’s time to start planting
Nothing beats summer in Dojima Shinden. The property has several large walnut trees that provide shade during the summer swelter and the mountain breeze keeps the house cool so there is no need for an air conditioner.
The garden is bursting with fruit & vegetables and you will essentially live outside on the deck for breakfast, lunch and dinner and everything in between.
After a morning of being in the garden or tending to the vineyard, take a refreshing dip in the river or a shower under the waterfalls.
Harvest time! Grapes, pumpkins, walnuts, oh my. It’s busy time getting everything in and enjoying the last of the garden and fruits (literally) of your labour.
For fun, there’s a cycling road that goes along the river and travels far into the mountains. Wonderful for watching the leafs change colour.
Snow snow snow. It’s beautiful and abundant. Live two minutes from a local skill hill – just perfect to ski whenever you want! You will never drive again for hours to ski. Wake up late, and still be among the first at the hill for fresh powder.
There’s also snow shoeing to follow animal tracks. Or, toboggan from the second floor veranda – the kids love it.
And when you are done, enjoy a hot coco in front of the stove. It’s a very quiet time. Perfect for family together time.
Despite being living in a valley, on a river, close to a ski hill with no neighbours, Dojima Shinden has very convenient access for travel coming to and getting away.
Urasa station (shinkansen) is 10 minutes away and the trip to Tokyo is 90 minutes.
We are 5 minutes away from the Kanetsu Expressway via Yamato interchange.
For skiers Hakkaisan Roku (link) is 2 minutes away and that is where the community plays on weekends. It’s great for our children to ski and see their classmates and for us to catch up with other parents and friends. Muikamachi Hakkaisan skijo is 25 minutes away for those advanced skiers interested in the steep and deep.
The major hospital, Uonuma Kikan, is 10 minutes away. And the shopping centres of Muikamachi and Koide are 15 minutes away by car for all your other needs.
Really, the best of both worlds – country living with urban conveniences.
Minami Uonuma, Niigata