setouchi cominca stays is a social business venture that preserves traditional ‘kominka’ wooden homes in rural japan, transforming them into exclusive-use, high-end lodgings. the project is part of a regenerative travel initiative, focused on preserving the local culture and buildings of the remote, lesser-known towns of uchiko in ehime prefecture and shobara in hiroshima prefecture of japan. so far, five houses have been beautifully restored, and are now available as holiday rentals. katsumi yamashita is the architect who worked on the houses in uchiko, while shiro miura is the one responsible for the houses in shobara.

setouchi cominca stays are saving japans architectural heritage one house at a time 1
chojaya, a 250-year-old thatched-roof farmhouse in hiroshima
all images courtesy of setouchi cominca stays



from 2008 through 2018, the number of kominka (traditional japanese houses built before 1950) decreased by more than 500,000 homes – nearly half of which were located in the setouchi region around the seto inland sea, including hiroshima and ehime prefectures. in the lesser-known town of uchiko, on the island of shikoku, setouchi cominca stays converted a miso factory and a wax merchant house, ‘hisa’ and ‘ori’, under the direction of local ehime-born architect katsumi yamashita. ‘the ori and hisa properties are not robustly made village farmhouses with clay and mud reinforced walls, but rather machiya townhouse buildings made from delicate wood’ yamashita shares. ‘I was conscious that any restoration work must enable the original features and beauty of the wood, such as the growth rings, grain and textures to live on in each space’ he adds. 

setouchi cominca stays are saving japans architectural heritage one house at a time 2
furosen, a historic farmhouse in rural hiroshima, japan, now available as a holiday rental 



the remote village of shobara in hiroshima prefecture, offers a glimpse of ancient japanese rural life, including the opportunity to stay in one of three historic farmhouses, which have been meticulously restored under the direction of kyoto-based architect shiro miura. ‘staying in a private house that has a long and strong connection to the land, enables you to fully feel the charm of shobara in a way that you cannot if just passing through’ miura comments. ‘I want the houses to give people an experience different from their everyday, that will give them a fresh, new type of happiness from travelling’. the architect likes to work with natural materials, in particular stone and wood, making the restoration of the shobara farmhouses a perfect project for him.

setouchi cominca stays are saving japans architectural heritage one house at a time 3
ori, once a miso factory and wood merchant’s house, now a luxury holiday rental 



each of the restored kominka farmhouses in shobara have their own individual special features, such as a thatched-roofs, earthen floor entrances and tatami rooms, wood-burning outdoor baths, and indoor/outdoor living spaces known as a doma, around a fire pit. ‘built using sophisticated traditional techniques, kominka houses cannot be rebuilt using modern materials once torn down’ yo kimura, general manager of setouchi cominca stays project adds. ‘instead, reimagining vacant kominka as new lodgings for travellers will help protect these residences and preserve a crucial part of the region’s history and culture’

setouchi cominca stays are saving japans architectural heritage one house at a time 4



project info:


name: setouchi cominca stays
architects: katsumi yamashita, shiro miura
location: japan



designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.