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Chinese Investors Seek Old Houses in Kyoto

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BEIJING —  Kazuhiko Makita reports: Japan placed second after Thailand in a list of overseas vacation destinations for people from China during the Lunar New Year holiday period this year from Jan. 27 to Feb. 2, according to the China Tourism Academy. The number of Chinese tourists to Japan topped 6 million for the first time last year, showing that Japan as a destination continued to enjoy strong popularity among people from China. It seems that “massive buying” of real estate in Kyoto and elsewhere in Japan by people from China has recently been gaining intensity.

‘Atmosphere totally changed’

A Chinese buyer purchased an 80-year-old private house that had been left vacant for many years in a residential area near Nijo Castle in Kyoto last year.

The house is typical of the Kyo-machiya traditional structure that is long and narrow. It has a floor space of about 100 square meters and was sold for several tens of millions of yen. The house will be remodeled into an upscale accommodation facility.

Joey Dai, 35, chief executive officer of Yoiju Inc., a Beijing-based real estate company that brokered the deal, stressed that the transaction signified the preservation of traditional machiya Japanese houses.

“The deal represents a business model of interactions between Chinese people who want to buy real estate in Japan and Japanese people who want to halt the decline in the number of machiya houses,” Dai said.

The number of machiya has been decreasing due to lifestyle changes and population decline. According to a survey conducted by the Kyoto municipal government, more than 10 percent of about 47,000 existing machiya houses are unoccupied and about 2 percent are dismantled every year.

There are also cases in which foreigners have established funds for machiya preservation to purchase the buildings. In this situation, expectations of Chinese investment have been growing.

Yoiju reportedly began its brokerage business for houses in Kyoto last summer and has since sold about 10 such houses to Chinese buyers. Given Kyoto’s global popularity as a tourist spot, houses there are popular because high profits can be expected if they are remodeled into accommodation facilities.

On the other hand, there is a lot of concern over the possibility of houses being used for unlicensed operators of minpaku businesses in which private houses are used to accommodate tourists, or repeatedly resold. … (read more)

Source: The Japan Times

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