How a bar owner and his friends are reviving a town

Japan is one of the oldest countries in the world with a median age of 46.5. A big percentage of the older population can be found in rural areas where the average ages are even higher and the younger people usually leave for one of the big cities and never come back. For many of those towns it is only a matter of time until nature reclaims the land entirely.

Against all odds there are some places where a new generation is at work, putting all their energy into the revival of their home. One of those people is Kuwashima Takahiko, owner of Osteria e Bar Recad. He is from a small town called Taketa in Oita prefecture, Kyushu. He left the town when he was 18 years old for Tokyo where he trained as a cook and came back with the hope to revitalize the community. Opening Osteria e Bar Recad in 2014 was his first approach to that. The short documentary by NHK posted below will tell you more about that as well as other initiatives he has been involved in. Alex Kerr, architect and author of the amazing book “Lost Japan” is guiding you through it.

In the video Kuwashima talks about how he felt passionate about preserving some of the beautiful buildings in the city that often end up being torn down. For the restaurant he remodeled the building for it to reflect more of the historical background of Taketa and made it fit seamlessly into the city scape.

The restaurant before and after the remodel

For his second project he bought a beautiful building right by the station and worked with two local couples to build a bakery / guesthouse. The owners of the guest house love traveling and they are passionate about connecting travelers to the community and create a kind of experience that stays with you and inspires you going forward. More about the guest house can be found on their site.

The guesthouse / bakery in the midst of the remodel

The couple that owns the Kitchen Usuda, the bakery, moved out to the countryside to enable themselves to have a better balance between work and life. This is their second branch and their main bakery can be found surrounded by beautiful nature in the woods.

Kitchen Usuda in the woods

The remodel was done with good friends of them that own a construction / interior design company Medicala Design. What I really love is how most material they use are from demolished houses which they reuse to create beautiful rustic interior designs.

Reusing material from demolished houses

Interior design of Osteria e Bar ReCad

It’s always exciting to see how, even if it’s few, some of the younger generation is realizing how they have the power to change the story of their town. Can’t wait to visit them!

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