The Building of Square One
An Eco-Hybrid house build in Hokkaido, Japan
by Toby, Maiko, Bomber & many other helping paws.
In 2006, we found a piece of property that was on the edge of a very nice town, Higashikawa, on the northern island Hokkaido. From this edge of town, we had amazing views of the mountain range "Kamuimintara" which is what the natives to the island, The Ainu, called it and translated into English as, "Playground of The Gods". The modern day Japanese call the mountains, "Taisetsuzan", which literally means "Great Snowy Mountains" as it gets massive amounts of snowfall every winter. While the mountain range is off in the distance (30km away), rice fields and the nearby river occupy the scenery in the foreground.
In the other direction of this piece of property, we only have to walk a short 1 kilometer to frequent the local post office, local supermarket that sells local products, the best ramen shop in the area (in our opinion anyway), an amazing izakaya (pub) that has absolutely delicious local food and many other local amenities.
Two blocks to the either direction of our house are either a cycling road or the last bus stop in town. On the cycling road, we can ride on to either the mountains or the big city of Asahikawa, the 2nd largest city behind Sapporo, on the island. The bus stop can also take us into Asahikawa where we can catch an express train to Sapporo or even the mainland if we choose. And then a short 10~15 minute taxi or car ride and we are at the local airport that can take us to Tokyo, Seoul or a few other major transportation hubs. In short, the location of our property is situated greatly for sustainable living when we eventually go car free.
As for the house itself, read through the book and you'll get a good idea of how environmentally friendly it is. We used as much local material as possible and are very proud of that. We built our Eco-Hybrid home with the present and future in mind while desiring something that was aesthetically appealing for us. We are very happy with our final product and are looking forward to spending many, many decades in our home.
We hope you enjoy the book. It was a long & hard process, but full of rewards throughout with the biggest one being what we see and feel every day.
My life started in Southern California, but fortunately changed to The Pacific Northwest at the age of one. After graduating from Linfield College in Oregon in 1993, I spent 6 of the next 7 years living and playing in northern Japan. I then traveled the world a bit more before moving back to Washington state in 2001 and working for the 116 game winning Seattle Mariner's that season. I also met my soon to be wife in 2001 and then spent the next 6 years exploring different types of "real world" employment with the last gig, Flexcar, being my favorite. In 2006, my wife and I made a decision to move back to Hokkaido, Japan. The easy access to awesome nature and amazing hot springs, as well as all the fantastic food was just too great. From 2009~2010, we built an Eco-Hybrid home near the largest national park in Japan. We used cedar logs for structural support, straw bales for insulation, radiant floor heating and passive solar design to create our dream home. Life is indeed good!
A Dream, A Mountain, A Happening Published August 27, 2011