every time another wonderful old Japanese farmhouse is slaughtered.
There is a “herratige rescue group” that Tomoe works with since the earthquake. It is a university professsor his students, and a lot of out-of-town volunteers that are working to rescue and catalogue historically significant documents and tools from old farm houses and kura warehouses that are being destroyed en mass since the earthquake relief funds are paying all demolition costs.
The professor will study them and eventually write a history of the village (no good history book exists now), and Tomoe and some of the other volunteers are working to organize a small museum to showcase them, or better yet, create opportunities that the tools can be used and learned from in that way.
There is a really great house a few kilometers from us, one that we would have without-a-doubt chosen over the house we currently live in, had it been available at the time we moved here. We learned through the rescue group that it was set to be demolished this year, and the group went in and tagged some of the items in the house. This is the best old-house I have seen yet in terms of the house itself, and the amount of good antiques forgotten inside.
We learned last night that the house is to be destroyed tomorrow. It was being kept a secret for some internal family reasons so the brother who didn’t want to destroy it wouldn’t find out.
I had actually decided that I would buy it (price of the land) and worry about the demolition costs ($30,000) if it ever came to that. It would have cost at least 25-30,000 to pull the house upright (it is a bit tilted) and minimal refurbish would be about 55,000. Even demolishing it, if done right can make money because the old beams used to build these houses are in demand.
I was going to use it as my workshop – currently I have no room large enough to use a table saw other than the living room, and the other family members aren’t so happy about saws and dust and nails flying around while they eat. I was going to use it as a place for anyone we hire to help out to stay. I was going to use it to store bikes and other junk we don’t have room for in our house now. Once it was fixed up I was going to rent it out to ski-bums in the winter (right near the ski-hill) make all the money back.
Or maybe we would live there. The location was great. Closer to the “downton” and main station than we are now, yet more secluded then our house. Large areas Mona could run around without too much worry, nice neighbors, young kids next door. Large plots for fields near the house.
The house was great. Two stories plus the “loft” area in which you can stand fully upright and touch the thatch roof.
It would have been a lot of work, but totally worth it.
Today we rushed over and removed as many of the items that the rescue group wanted as possible, as well as some more goodies for ourselves (that we have no room to keep). As we were there I almost had my wallet out and Tomoe was on the phone trying to find who we can contact to do an emergency rescue buy and stop the demolition men from coming tomorrow.
It turned out to be impossible. So another perfectly wonderful house will be torn down tomorrow, and the village looses another potential family that would have moved in, because having a country house like that, in a location like that is about the only thing the village has to attract new blood.
I go back tomorrow to scavenge a few more things, and cry a bit more.