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Nagoya temple erects Home-for-all for guests

Chunichi Shimbun

Aioiyama Tokurinji Temple in Tenpaku Ward, Nagoya, is currently building a guest house named Home-for-all within its premises. The house will be fitted with a solar power system and will be self-sufficient energywise.

The temple will open the house to those who need a place to stay temporarily, while at the same time hoping that it will also be used by local residents as a place to interact with one another.

Tokurinji is building two two-story Home-for-all guest houses.

To build the walls, bamboo poles are split and placed in a reticular pattern before being covered with mud mixed with straw.

The temple has been inviting local children to take part in building the soil wall of the structure as well.

While some of them ended up playing with the mud, a few saw the more serious side of why they were there and worked to smooth the surface of the mud walls.

Professional architects designed the house, but the actual construction was done by volunteers who supported the project’s purpose. The cost of building is expected to go no higher than ¥4 million — the price of the construction materials.

“It’ll take time, but it’ll give everyone the chance to feel that they have created this house with their own hands,” said Shucho Takaoka, 70, the temple’s head priest.

The team has avoided using mortise and tenon joints to connect the wooden structure, which would have required professional skills. Instead, they opted for traditional earthen walls that would be easy to create by people with no experience of building a house. In addition, soil walls have heat insulating properties, making that kind of wall perfect for Japan’s humid climate.

The construction of Home-for-all began close to a year ago, but the size of the structure expanded beyond its original design, so the temple had to apply for new building permits this spring. After they had settled all the legal issues, the volunteers continued building the house while constantly suggesting different ideas such as using bamboo to cover the outer wall of the second floor.

A 25-kw solar panel will be installed on the slanted roof that faces south. The temple hopes to cover maintenance costs for the house with income derived from selling surplus electricity.

Discussions had been ongoing for years to create a shelter within the temple premises for victims of domestic violence or for foreign refugees. The concept of an eco-friendly house with self-sufficient energy sources was added to the plan when the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant crisis started in March 2011.

The first thing the temple did was build a tank with a diameter of 5 meters to collect water and install solar panels to generate electricity. Besides Home-for-all, the temple also plans to introduce organic farming methods and toilets that utilize biomass technology.

This summer, the temple organized events to bring together people who are interested in creating permaculture, a sustainable society that lives in harmony with nature. The temple hopes to create a place for like-minded people to exchange information.

“I don’t want to depend on large systems like nuclear power plants. I want to provide people with a definite image of a world without nuclear power,” said Takaoka. “I also hope that the house will become a place for people to learn about different lifestyles such as those experienced by people including foreigners or disabled people,” he added.

For inquiries and more information on helping with the construction of Home-for-all, please contact 052-896-1606.

This section, appearing Saturdays, features topics and issues from the Chubu region covered by the Chunichi Shimbun. The original article was published Oct. 12.