Tokyo is an urban place where people from all over the country get together, and you can get everything since it’s the center of Japan. While it’s very convenient, you might imagine it’s dry and cold and noisy.
In reality, however, there are many different parts of Tokyo, and there are also areas that are rich in nature and offer a sense of tranquility though they are close to the city’s center, such as Shibuya and Shinjuku.
Although Higashi-fushimi is 20 minutes away by train from Shinjuku, Tokyo, it’s a local town with a relaxed atmosphere.
We interviewed the owner, Mizuno-san, who has started a new sharehouse in Higashi-fushimi.
Mizuno-san started his career with a secure job as a civil servant, but he has a lot of experience and challenged many things, such as cottage management and working in China, and now he started a sharehouse in his 70s.
In his life, he has continued to value his hospitality and has just started a loving sharehouse with diversities in Higashi-fushimi, where his parent’s house is located.
Please read the interview if you want to live in Tokyo but prefer a quiet place or if you want to start something new but nervous.
Sharehouse Hidamari Higashi-fushimi is looking for residents. If you are interested, please check out the following page.
Mizuno-san, who became a sharehouse owner after working in China, managing a cottage, and working as a civil servant
– Please introduce yourself briefly.
: I am Mizuno. I was born in 1950 and will turn 73 years old soon.
I was born in Shinjuku, and this house, which has become a sharehouse, is my parent’s house.
I used to do something like running a company in China. There is a company that makes parts of Japanese cellphones, and I was in charge of running its Chinese brunch for about 10 years. I had lived in China for 15 years in total until I pulled out 7 ~ 8 years ago.
– What were you doing before that?
: I was a local civil servant at a municipal office for 10 years and a bit after graduating from school in my 20s.
It was the time of the Japanese economic miracle in the 1980s, but the pollution problem, such as photochemical smog and Minamata disease, became a huge issue and was often reported on the news throughout Japan.
Since I was in the Department of Science, I have been interested in pollution and anti-pollution measures.
Local governments started thinking about anti-pollution measures, and I found a job opportunity that they were looking for people from the Department of Science. That’s the reason why I became a civil servant.
But, I wouldn’t say I liked a secure job, like a civil servant (lol). Rather I was attracted to work, work style, and employment status, I was more interested in being involved with anti-pollution measurements and environmental issues. To be honest, it was more like an easy way to make money for a while.
So, after working for more than 10 years, I started thinking about what I should do. Then, I started thinking, “I want to work in a place with a lot of nature.,” since I like outdoor activities. Then, I started a cottage in Izu.
– I see.
: I have run the cottage for about 15 years and let my son take care of it after he grew up enough. Then, I decided to go back to Tokyo since I was worried about my parent living alone in this house.
At that time, my friend asked me to help his business since he was expanding his business, and no one who could do management around him. So, I decided to go back to being a salaryman. I lived in China for that job.
– I see. Is running the cottage the longest time you worked and the strongest feelings for?
: I loved all my jobs. But when I look back, I moved on to the next stage after working for about 15 years for each job. I might get bored easily (lol).
My friends often say to me:
“You like to focus on one thing at a time and work very hard for it, but you move on to the next place once it’s settled (lol). You should keep working for it because you get settled down after working hard.”
I might like to challenge something new, even at this age (lol).
– Indeed. I was surprised when you told me you are going to turn 73 years old soon (lol).
: If I had to say, I would say that the best fit was cottage management. Well, rather I have a feeling for it, maybe I like jobs with hospitality.
Although I interacted with citizens and worked for people together through my time at the municipal office, it didn’t require hospitality that much. It was required to do without mistakes based on the rules and orders.
Compared to that, what each guest wants is different in cottage management though their purpose is the same: “staying at the cottage.”
For example, some people stay for a more intimate and friendly atmosphere, such as socializing and interaction, while others want high-quality services like a hotel.
It was a job that required creating an atmosphere comfortable for each customer, depending on the person and the occasion. I enjoyed that and felt that was suited me very well.
Started the sharehouse to make it a place where various people could socialize and interact after my parent’s home became empty
– Are there any reasons why you started a new sharehouse?
: I thought of it first back at the end of 2021. My mother lived alone in this house, but she passed away in 2021. I was talking with my brothers, “What should we do about this house?”
In general, in this kind of situation, most people leave their house empty or get rid of it since it’s hard to keep taking care of it. In fact, there were so many things in this house, and it often got dirty without constant maintenance. So, we once decided to get rid of the house.
But on the other hand, I knew that my parents cherished this house, and I also felt that it would be wrong to destroy it. My two younger brothers also said, “If this place is going to stay, we will be happy.”
Then I started to research the ways of utilizing the house and found ‘sharehouse’ while thinking about destroying it or what I can do if I keep it.
I thought of making it an apartment, but since I liked jobs that I can feel the hospitality and that create interactions, I decided to choose a sharehouse where residents can socialize rather than an apartment where people live individually.
– And that was the time you contacted us.
: I suddenly asked, “Can I do a sharehouse?” without any deep research.
To be honest, I was half in doubt if running a sharehouse at that time was possible. So, I said, “I haven’t decided if I’m actually going to do it or not.” beforehand.
But, Taku-san from Hidamari made a trial balance sheet right away, kindly listened to my concerns, and gave me advice after I contacted Hidamari.
During our conversations, Taky-san said, “I believe we can do it.” And that made me believe I can run a sharehouse (lol).
– Honestly, it was hard to say, “Absolutely, we can do it.” with certainty since it was the time of the Corona pandemic and other related problems. In terms of rent, I told you that it would be difficult to guarantee a lot of profit right away.
Yes, yes. But, rather than profitability, my reason for starting a sharehouse was to interact with various people through my intentionality and my way of life, so profitability was not that important to me.
Originally, the sharehouse in Higashi-fushimi has only 3 rooms, so there wouldn’t be much profit in terms of management and operation.
Since I like hospitality, I thought I would put more emphasis on my own values, such as “interaction” rather than revenue. I decided to start the sharehouse because I wanted to do it for my own enjoyment.
The area around the sharehouse in Higashi-fushimi is a quiet place with a lot of chain stores and nature
– What kind of place is Higashi-fushimi?
: I want to stay here. It’s related to the reason why I like this place, this is where convenience and a calm atmosphere are well mixed.
First of all, it’s close to the station. The area around the sharehouse is a residential area and quiet, but it won’t take more than 5 minutes to the station. It’s very convenient and it takes about 20 minutes to Shinjuku by train or from Ome Kaido.
– Indeed. The area here has the atmosphere of a residential place, but it has everything you need for daily life, such as UNIQLO.
: Yes. UNIQLO is 1 minute away, and Gusto is 3 minutes away on foot from the sharehouse.
Although it’s very convenient that much, there are many places where you can relax in nature, such as Higashi-fushimi Park and Musashi Park.
There is a walking route surrounding a lake in Musashi Park, which is 10 minutes away from the sharehouse, and I like walking and jogging there. There are students running since Waseda University is near.
Other than that, if you go upstream of the Shakuji River, you will find Higashi-fushimi Park with a large lawn. It’s getting popular recently, and I see many young married couples with children.
– It is a relaxing place with a lot of nature. It seems like a place where you can live peacefully.
The sharehouse has loving designed with wood, which was designed and created by Mizuno-san himself
– This sharehouse was designed and made over a year by you. Are there any particular things you focused on?
: Since I like nature, I decided to use as few chemical materials as possible for the interior design.
First, solid wood. Since I used plaster for guest rooms, it can control the temperature and is also expected to absorb harmful substances and toxic gases. I thought about not only its look but also its impact and effects on our daily lives.
Moreover, each room has two windows, making it a space where you can feel nature with a lot of sunlight and wind. You can feel relaxed by just being in a room.
– Sounds good. Did you design all by yourself?
: Yes. I just played it by ear (lol) rather than drawing a floor plan and thinking too much.
Since I live here too, I wanted it to be easy for me to use. I made it as I wanted.
– Did you buy wood all by yourself?
: Yes. The flood is made of Japanese cypress, but it’s expensive to buy them at a hardware store, and you can’t always get the good woods.
So, I directly bought wood used for the sharehouse from a timber mill. From there, I transported them myself by truck. I bought a mini truck parked in front of the sharehouse just for that (lol).
And I calculated the amount of stuff and space/size for the sharehouse by myself. I used them all up, and there was no excess or shortage. I didn’t calculate precisely, so it was kinda coincidence.
– Amazing! It can’t be done by an amateur. You must have a good sense.
: Since I didn’t have professional knowledge and skills, it was a trial-and-error process, and I asked various lumber millers.
There are a lot of DIY movies uploaded on YouTube. People who like DIY upload many DID movies with many pieces of advice. I learned a lot from them and tried by myself.
– It’s very cool. But wasn’t it challenging?
: Yes, indeed, it was challenging, but it was fun for me. There were hardships, but I felt like, “Oh, this is fun.” and “I was allowed to do this.”
I felt a sense of accomplishment when I finished, and I enjoyed that. Just when I finished putting up a single wall, I thought, “Oh, that was great.” or “I made it this far.” It was like an addiction (lol).
That’s why I would be happy if someone who feels good about my commitment would live in the sharehouse.
I want the sharehouse to be a place where people from various nationalities, genders, and ages get together
– So, this is the sharehouse where you put so much effort, but have you ever lived with strangers?
: Not really. I lived in a company dormitory when I lived in China, but it wasn’t like a sharehouse with many interactions. People who lived in the dormitory were company members, so I was familiar with them.
This is the first time I live with people with no common grand, so I’m looking forward to it.
– Are you not nervous? Or do you have any concerns?
: No. I’m simply just looking forward to it.
– Great. Some people get nervous and anxious when they do things for the first time.
: I’ve had quite a lot of experiences up to this age, and I feel I’ve also had about three times as much fun as I would have in an average life (lol).
I like to try new things, so I don’t feel scared to try something new. I feel like, whatever happens, happens.
– Wonderful. What are you looking forward to, or what is your ideal lifestyle in creating and developing a sharehouse?
: What I’m most looking forward to is getting connected with various people.
First of all, I had an image of having a conversation with tea with everyone at a porch under the sunlight about a sharehouse. It’s like a place where various people get together.
Also, as my own thought, I want to make the sharehouse a place for people with various characters and personalities, including LGBTQs, people with disabilities, elders, young people, female and male, to meet and interact with each other.
Honestly, it’s hard to welcome many people since the sharehouse has only 3 rooms and is not with great facilities. For example, it might be difficult to provide a completely comfortable life when a person with a physical disability suddenly moves in.
I hope this place will be a place where people with different backgrounds and contexts can interact with each other while I offer what I can to the best.
– As of now (March 2023), before its opening, two of three rooms are already occupied.
: I hope to realize the lifestyle and involvement that each of the diverse people wants while living in the sharehouse together, although the maximum number of residents is 3.
When I was managing a cottage, I was conscious of the fact that when people hear the word “cottage,” they think of a loving atmosphere, like a guest house, with the owner’s family around the table, chatting and laughing.
However, actually, each cottage manager/owner has a different style and atmosphere. To be precise, there is a group that cottage managers join, and the direction that the group takes is reflected in their own cottages.
The group I belonged to aimed for “a small hotel.” The staff never showed their private aspects, such as their family members, and they made sure to provide the necessary items, and then tried to treat guests in a way that valued the space and the way of spending time guests wanted.
As my habit, I have an ingrained style of adapting to others’ styles. So, even in the sharehouse, I think I can adapt to what the residents are looking for.
– I think you have that habit unconsciously because of the way you have worked and treated others for so many years.
: And I feel good and comfortable with it. I find joy in providing what customers want with high quality and making them happy.
It is a sense of hospitality in the way I live, more than I try to do as a job.
That’s why I would be happy if people who can show interest in accepting diversity and my passion for using natural materials move into the sharehouse in Higashi-fushimi.
At the place with many memories, creating s sharehouse where various people can get together
In this article, we interviewed Mizuno-san, who renovated his parents’ house as a sharehouse.
Throughout his life, he has been interested in new things and theactivities and challenged them. Moreover, what impressed us is that he always puts himself in somebody’s shoes and lives that way, such as accepting diverse people and making a comfortable space for people moving in.
We feel he has succeeded in any kind of job anywhere, challenging something new one after another because of his way of thinking and humanity to create many opportunities.
Perhaps it is the atmosphere of Higashi-fushimi, a place with rich nature and a relaxed atmosphere in spite of its urban setting, that gives it its unique character.
There is only one room available at Sharehouse Hidamari Higashi-fushimi (as of April 2023). We accept a house viewing, so please feel free to contact us.