Hi there! Another month has gone by in a rush, and the Scandinavian Golden Moose is ready with a new project update. So. Where to start? Since last time, we’ve been a part of a wonderful Christmas Market, and the guesthouse has little by little been turned into a skeleton. So maybe start with the Christmas event, as that is still fresh in the memory of this 30 year old Norwegian grandpa.
This Christmas event felt a bit like a peek into the future for me. Together with some other excellent business owners here in Kito (Kuruku and Coffestand Tanizaki), we made an effort to make a nice Christmas event for everyone. Though a fairly small scale event, I enjoyed it a lot, and it was great to get a bit of normal life back from this virus plagued year. This type of local cooperation for everyone's benefit and happiness, is something I’d like the Next Chapter to keep pushing for and being a part of in the future. I’m already looking forward to next time :)
Second news! The guesthouse is now just the skeleton of the previous Kameya Ryokan. In regards to this skeleton guesthouse, I quite often get the question: “Since you’re basically building a new house on top of the guesthouse skeleton, why not tear down the whole building and create something completely new from scratch?” Which is a good question. So I’ve been wanting to answer it properly here.
There’s basically a two part answer to this. Half the answer, and the less symbolically swelling one, is that the project evolved to a renovation scale I initially didn’t expect. Which is probably 100% my own fault for not being known to quite master the concept “less is more”. I tend to stumble into big dreams before I realize it myself. So the initial idea of some nice simple renovations to create a nice-ish budget guesthouse, slowly grew into a total renovation with grand concepts and ideas. Which leads me to the second part of the answer.
As the planning and ideas slowly turned into a guesthouse holding “the spirit of stories", building upon the shape and history of the Kameya ryokan made sense to me. The Next Chapter guest house is in many ways also the next chapter of the current Kameya Ryokan's story. In other words, it fits really well with the guesthouse story concept. I guess that’s the swelling symbolic answer to the question. Regardless of the reason though, I’m quite satisfied and confident with the path we're on. A path that has obviously come with a few extra challenges. !Oh. Btw. This is where this post turns into a kind of New Years reflection speech.
Me not being a trained architect is obviously one of the big challenges. I’m sure our carpenter Shimizu-san had plenty of headaches over our various uneducated ideas. But he’s really done an amazing job of finding solutions to all our strange ideas that actually will work in reality (and within our budget). Without his support I'm sure the Next Chapter guest house would look more like a clubhouse built by ambitious children (which actually would also be kind of cool, I think), but more importantly, a potential death trap. So my deepest gratitude for all his support.
Another challenge is obviously language. My Japanese is… charming at best, and not super useful. I sometimes stumble into unintentionally rude sentences in my translation app., or not being culturally sensitive enough about certain Japanese words (!e.g.“Oba-sans” are actually “Onee-sans”, but only when you talk directly to them). Luckily I’ve had the support of my trusted henchman Kawahito in everything from translations to dealing with Japanese society. And also Hara-san, who’s been translating most of my posts lately (I’m sorry for this long post Hara-san. I’m very grateful for all your help). I’ve also had a lot of help from Niki-san and Hori-san for various things. And more recently, Moriguchi-san has been lending his paperwork mastery to the team. So while I’m a leader of sorts for this project, the progress we’re making is mostly thanks to all these people.
Throughout the year I’ve already gotten a look into the stories of the town, its people and culture, and I’m getting increasingly excited to have a guesthouse that will be a gateway to all this.
With the year coming to an end, so does the current chapter of the Kameya Ryokan. Through December its structure has been torn down to its foundation, and with the new year we start the rebuilding for its next stage. As the old chapter closes, the “Next Chapter - Guesthouse” begins! (Yes, I’m completely aware of the cheesiness of that sentence, but I'm pretty sure that’s how you end a new year speech. I’ve seen it in movies.. )
So what’s left is to thank you all for following the project so far, and hopefully in the future to come, and wish you all a happy new year from the whole Next Chapter team! Happy new year! Godt Nyttår! Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu!
Next Chapter Project Leader / The Scandinavian Golden Moose