When offices closed down due to the pandemic in early 2020, workers had to figure out their minimum needs — the basic equipment, space and environment for them to continue to be productive. Yet it did not take long for some to realize the goal should not be to reproduce the traditional office environment as closely as possible, but to create spaces and practices that could make work and even life in general even more fulfilling.

Hidaiiyo Co. has taken up this challenge, and with its new coworking space Trace it is taking a big step toward creating a work-life environment that nourishes mind, body and soul.

Trace is situated in Hida, Gifu Prefecture, an old castle town in the heart of Japan’s Northern Alps. It is a short drive from Takayama, the popular tourist destination renowned for its traditional architecture, particularly the steep gassho-zukuri thatched-roof farmhouses in the village of Shirakawa. Hida, on the other hand, boasts a historical commercial district populated by elegant wooden machiya (townhouses), Trace now occupying one of them.

The name Trace comes from the Japanese word kiseki, which is also used to mean trajectory or path, and is intended to evoke the journeys and adventures of the people and companies that spend time there, hopefully stimulated and facilitated by the environment it provides.

Clients enjoy Trace’s open and comfortable shared work area. | HIDAIIYO CO.
Clients enjoy Trace’s open and comfortable shared work area. | HIDAIIYO CO.

Hidaiiyo’s goal with Trace and its other endeavors is to not only provide a functional space for office workers to get their work done away from home, but also to integrate all the aspects of the surrounding community to create a synergistic effect that fosters creativity and fulfillment.

Inside Trace itself are comfortable shared workspaces, private rooms for meetings and a kitchenette. Individual memberships are priced at ¥25,000 per month and ¥40,000 monthly for corporate memberships.

In addition to the workplace amenities, use of the facility’s sauna room can be added to a membership. There may be no better way to relax and reset after a day spent focused on work. It may not be a typical office practice, but could a lunchtime sauna help boost afternoon productivity? This is the place to experiment.

Hot and cold water cypress baths adjoin the sauna available for Trace users. | HIDAIIYO CO.
Hot and cold water cypress baths adjoin the sauna available for Trace users. | HIDAIIYO CO.

The surrounding area is also part of the concept. Trace is on Shirakabe Dozogai street, a historical district of traditional warehouses and townhouses with a small canal teeming with colorful carp from spring to autumn. The refined elegance of this neighborhood is a world away from typical business districts filled with traffic, advertisements and crowds of people focused only on their destinations.

Zooming out encompasses the greater region — Hida’s narrow valley with its rivers and farms, the forested hills that surround the town on every side and to the west the impressive peaks of the Northern Alps, all of which can be made part of the experience of working and staying here.

The concept even extends to after work. Hidaiiyo also runs Iori Stay, a “distributed” hotel that consists of separate townhouses that are rented out individually. There are four Iori Stay locations in Hida and several more in nearby Takayama. All the Hida locations are just a few minutes’ walk to Trace. Absolutely no crowded trains or traffic jams here. The townhouses have been renovated in a style that combines traditional elegance and beauty with modern comfort and function. Guests can also choose from a variety of experience-based tours and activities designed to deepen familiarity with the local community and its traditions.

The Trace experience can be used for short “workations,” corporate training camps, as a second office away from more urban headquarters, or as a permanent base for businesses that are fully remote or locally focused. The world is changing and the time is right to create a new work-life balance focused on inspiration and health.

For more information, visit https://trace-hida.com/en/