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Old wooden house in Wakayama Pref. a popular place to stay with foreign tourists

The "Konya Machiya" lodging house is seen in Tanabe, Wakayama Prefecture. (Mainichi)

TANABE, Wakayama -- An old wooden house that was vacant for over a decade has become a popular lodging facility among foreign travelers after the building was renovated to accommodate just one group of guests per night.

    According to lodging operator Nankimirai, a joint venture by public and private sectors, the occupancy rates of the "Konya Machiya" house between April and December last year was 53.5 percent, and some 60 percent of the guests were tourists from overseas.

    The building had remained empty for over a decade. The operating company had the house renovated after leasing it from its owner and opened the lodging facility in February 2013. The two-story wooden building measures 75 square meters in total, with a living room, kitchen and bathroom on the first floor. On its second floor, there are two Japanese-style bedrooms with tatami mats. It's equipped with household appliances such as a refrigerator, microwave and water heater. The Tanabe City Kumano Tourism Bureau, commissioned by Nankimirai, takes care of reservations.

    A Nankimirai representative says travelers find the facility attractive since they can stay at a traditional Japanese house without having to worry about other people.

    The annual occupancy rates have been gradually increasing since the house opened to tourists, with the ratio of foreign travelers hitting 61.3 percent in nine months between April and December 2016.

    The representative says the company is keen on promoting vacation house rentals to boost the number of Japanese guests as well.

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