Thursday, 22 November 2012

Community meets to cut down more trees

It's been a couple of years since Nobuta was here helping to cut down the trees that surrounded the plot. Now head of the local Land and Forestry commission, he returned today to continue to open the sky. Four trees felled before the rain started. Thank you Nobuta!

Friday, 16 November 2012


A beer on the new table.

Dinning table

Took me around an hour to assemble the legs for this monster dinning table. Still a lot to do and no real chairs as yet but work continues...

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Roof Terrace sealed

A shot of the roof terrace with all the asphalt siding on and sealed.

Friday, 2 November 2012

First dawn yoga

I had pictured doing this when all I had was the design on the computer. A yoga mat overlooking the forest and mountains at dawn. Tranquil.

Siding completed!

Takahashi-san and Saiko complete the siding on the south side of the house! With the help of the amazing (needs a patent!) "generation" jig developed by Takahashi, these two experts bring an end to months of exposed house sheet. The house is now completely covered in siding!

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Kitchen coming on slowly

A lot of work putting the kitchen in order today. Loads more to do!

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Hinoki bath tub in

Had my first bath in this last night. Wonderful! The scent of Japanese cypress while bathing. I actually laughed aloud with glee!

This bathtub will be kept full of 40 degree hot water all winter using a special electric thermostat heater. With insulated lid, Initial calculations put the cost at around +20 dollars per month.

Bathing in the Japanese style, this bathtub is only used for soaking. Now I just need to finish the bathroom itself.

First tinkle on the ivories

Office space gets a digital piano. Long way to go before this is a real office, but music helps!

Monday, 22 October 2012

First use of upstairs 'office'

The reason I bought this land was to be able to write and work with views. As I write I am sitting down to work for the first time at this makeshift mini-office in what will become the upstairs apartment.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Upstairs workshop

Clearing all the materials from the living room allowed me to reorganize all the timber and tools into a dedicated workshop area upstairs. This will be the stage for the rest of the inside fitting out.


And the dishwasher in from the old place. Nice.

Washing machine

At last! No new to tramp to the old place to do laundry. What a relief!

Small reading area

Moving out from the old house and decided to create a small reading library on the north side of the living room. Eventually, this area will be a floor to ceiling library with a ladder.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Soffits Complete

Ivory soffits help to emphasize the cedar and add a nice tone to large overhangs.

North Side Completed

Scaffolding down and cedar siding exposed on the north side of the house. Just have the sealing of the front door and little window left to do and this wall is complete!

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Turning Green

The clover seeds that we all planted some weeks ago have sprouted and the east side of the house is beginning to green. Yay!

Window Sealing

This is the second layer of sealant to go on the outside and sits between the cedar siding and the vinyl window frame. It is a very slightly darker grey than the windows.

Touching up and Finishing the North Side

The house's most visible aspect is the north. Over the last few days it has been here where efforts have been concentrated.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Build Team Celebrates and Reviews Project

At the famous Kyoto 'Yata' restaurant, the house build team gather to review the unfolding and success of the project. From left, Sugie (contractor/architect), Tsuge (architect), Murase (timber merchant/specialist) and me, the owner.

Murase gave me a CDROM picture diary of the project which I will upload shortly. This meeting represented the culmination of the team's efforts to innovate construction techniques that combined traditional Japanese carpentry and materials with a new generation of passive house standards.

Great job everyone!

Thursday, 30 August 2012

An Address!

Finally I am now the proud owner of a house with an official address! Spent the morning at city hall doing the necessary paperwork to receive the plague in the picture. Now it's off to the post office to set up a forwarding service. Nice!

Soffits Prep

Spent yesterday helping Nobu with the soffits. A coat of ivory paint will add a layer of weather proofing and hopefully make them last for over a decade.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Cousin Phill Comes to Japan to Jump Start House Systems

(from left) Phill, Jamila, Prof. Fujita and Michiko
planting clover seeds on East side of house
Following in the footsteps of Olivia and David's visit (story to come), my cousin Phill arrived from Jersey, UK, to spend almost a month helping to put the house in shape.

During his time Phil hooked up several new electric lines, introduced a system of home automation, did plumbing jobs, solved logistical and engineering problems of all kinds and helped to keep me sane through this stressful time. Can never thank Phill enough for the help he gave and time he put into the project.

This video diary documents some of the developments through the month of August.

Electric hook up from the street comes in to give house full 220v power

View of the house from the street.

Phill fits mini-tank hot-water heater under island sink.

Electrical and plumbing tool boxes help the jobs along.

Main kitchen sink plumbed and electric to the trash mincer.

Living room looking like a living room for the first time. Chairs courtesy of the Fujitas!

View from the roof terrace (east).

View from the roof terrace (south).

View from the roof terrace (south).

View from the roof terrace (north).

View from the roof terrace down onto the make-shift decking.

Phill under the floor. Not a pleasant place to be.

Trap door in Japanese room.

Emerging from hooking up electric wires under floor.

Cedar Siding Almost Done!

Only day two and Nobu-san has almost completed the cedar siding on the north wall. Looking great!

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

German Instant Hot Water in and Working

Proud of myself--and thanks to my cousin Phill--for this one. Now plumbed in and working.

North Wall Cedar Siding on its Way

Nobu-san started the cedar siding today and got about half way through! Go Nobu!

Daisuke Helps Net the Foundation Vents

Hannah and Daisuke helped on the house today. Many thanks!

Monday, 27 August 2012


The stairs go in opening up the 2nd floor!

Sunday, 26 August 2012

200 Year Old Reclaimed Beams Arrive From Kyoto

These two massive beams presented quite the challenge for me, Sugie, Murase and Tsuge. Weighing in in the hundreds of kilos, somehow four men managed to get them on this truck from their home in Kyoto. The 200 year old timbers will find a home at the top of my entry gateway, spending their last decades in full view of visitors and passers by.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

A Toilet!

With this in the house is approaching occupancy!

Minisplit installed

In goes the unit that will serve all the heating and cooling needs of the house. It is a Toshiba 7.1kw unit (most powerful available on single phase power supply) with some clever features. It has various sensors that allow the air to be directed at zones where people are. It also displays it current kw usage. In subsequent tests it keeps the entire house (230sqm+) cool and dry (26C 60% RH) in mid summer (34C 80% RH) with a drain of 300-500 watts. That's astoundingly good and is the first example of just how well the passive standards are working.

House Envelope Complete

The house is now completely sealed and has a layer of house wrap. This makes it weatherproof for a few months.

Kitchen Counter Installed

Kawaguchi installs the first of the pine kitchen counters. Shaping up!

Sealing the Envelope

A key feature of an eco-house is a drum-tight envelope. This shot of the outside wall shows the care taken to seal all the insulation panels with foil tape.

Shakuhachi Concert on Grounds

My good friend Richard Chenhall came to stay a couple of months ago and gave a superb impromptu shakuhachi performance on the south side of the house. Even the birds stopped to listen.

Community Comes Together for House Raising Ceremony

The house raising, or "muneage" ceremony was held on a beautiful mid-May afternoon. Around twenty friends and neighbors gathered for a uniquely conceived set of rituals. As the video portrays, rice and sake are poured on the exterior walls to purify and bless the house and its future occupants.

A party followed and much merriment was had by all! Thanks to all who came--a truly memorable event.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Imported materials arrive from the UK!

On the 19th of May all the windows, doors, insulation and roofing/siding shingles arrived by container from the UK. Big thanks to all the suppliers, Jeffrey Burnham from Davies Turner and Ms. Murabe from Best Shipping in Kobe, and Alan White at Quay Warehousing Southampton, for making all this possible!

Check out the video diary of all the carpenters and helpers unloading the two massive containers full of stuff. We unloaded something like 7 tonnes in 2 hours! Good job everyone!