The government will support the use of crowdfunding to raise cash to refurbish historic old houses into tourism attractions where foreign visitors can stay or experience traditional lifestyles, according to people familiar with the initiative.
The first case of crowdfunding backed by the government will try to collect millions of yen in donations starting this September to rebuild an old house in the city of Sasayama in the western Japan prefecture of Hyogo that was built during the Meiji era (1868-1912). If this initial attempt proves successful, the government wants to help similar projects across Japan.
The crowdfunding initiative will be promoted by the council for the promotion of tourism attractions based on historic resources with members including a crowdfunding operator. The council is receiving some 21 million yen in subsidies from the Japan Tourism Agency for three years starting fiscal 2017.
According to the agency, some 1.57 million old houses built before 1951 exist throughout Japan. Many of these houses need refurbishment before they can be used as lodging or eating facilities. Subsidies for upgrading those buildings are available from the farm ministry or the Agency for Cultural Affairs, but their amounts were not enough to cover the cost of refurbishing historic houses, which rose into the tens of millions of yen in some cases.
Government officials hope that historic houses can attract foreign visitors, especially those from Europe and the United States, if those facilities are incorporated into tourism courses offering long-stay experiences. Last year, tourists from overseas numbered 28.69 million, marking a historic high for the fifth consecutive year.
(Japanese original by Minami Nomaguchi, Political News Department)