Karimizuan is a Cafe and Retail space located in a renovated house built by a Master Carpenter 80 years ago. On the 1st floor shop we sell arts and crafts sourced locally in Japan and other quality goods from around the world. Accessories are designed by Studio Shirotani which operates Karimizuan. In the upstairs Cafe we serve coffee and herbal tea in a calm space surrounded by the sea and mountains where you can enjoy a pleasant meal.
Karimizuan area, Obamacho Unzen - Nagasaki . A few minutes walk from Obama spa town it has narrow streets and steep roads and do not allow for car traffic.
It is a sparsely populated village with luscious mountain views in the distance. Surrounding virgin forests are a rich source of natural spring water.
Views to the ocean can be seen from the top of the hill with beautiful stone walls and other distinctive sightseeing attractions. In the local area there is a regional eco-Village concept made to help conserve water that helps to connect nature, tourism and life.
In the summer of 2012, as a part of study of design education, there was a
workshop sponsored by Studio Shirotani, a designer office in Obama Town,
The content was to survey the depopulated Karimizu region and make a booklet
as to make suggestions. The Lecturer was Kosei Shirotani, the representative
of Studio Shirotani and Yosuke Taki – a design director and students at the
Faculty of Environmental Sciences at Nagasaki University.
Many students who study construction and design gathered in Obama and the workshop commenced.
We observed the Karimizu region and did numerous interviews with residents for a week. We started with a household survey and studied the landscape heritage by making a map of the vacant houses in the area. This survey highlighted the self-sufficiency of the Karimizu region in many ways.
We came up with suggestions after the workshop, which was to renovate the vacant houses and use it for business purposes whilst the attractive scenery of this area remains. We made pamphlets of the Karimizu Eco Village concept, that is to connect nature, increase tourism and sightseeing business and to use the vacant houses in Karimizu region in a positive way. We had a presentation regarding the research and investigation with the local residents. At first the object was just to make pamphlets and give suggestions, but the residents excitement and their excitement actually made us move to the next step in this Karimizu Eco Village Project.
To begin this project, our staff members started to live in the vacant houses which were already surveyed at the University workshop. We think it’s important that people live in the area and communicate with the locals in the Karimizu region.
In order to make this project successful, we selected an 80 year old house built by a Master Carpenter which had been vacant for 10 years.
The owner was pleased to let us use it to revitalize the Karimizu region.
In the fall of 2012 renovation started by Studio Shirotani as well as Universitiy students and volunteers. 6 months later we opened Karimizuan in March 2013.
Today a wide variety of people such as tourists of neighboring prefectures, local elderly people and children as well as locals enjoy Karimizuan.
There used to be lots of vacant houses and also many elderly people who lived on their own, visitors were only mailmen, in this typical depopulated area. Now, people are slowly coming back and promoting the revitalization of the depopulated Karimizu area.
As of Today, 4 houses have been renovated as shops such as Atelier of Natural Dyeing and out of 14 original vacant houses, there are only 10 vacant now. ( 2016 June)
Karimizuan organizes a Design Market twice a year - in spring and in autumn. During the market, artists and designers coming from different parts of Japan such as Nagasaki, Fukuoka, Oita or Tokyo come together to expose their crafts, mostly hand-made ceramics on which Japanese cuisine’s best delicacies will be displayed and served. It’s an event that involves the whole community, as everyone - including the children and the elderly – gets invited and becomes an active part of the workshop. The goal is to keep alive the Japanese tradition of hand-made products, by letting the new generations experience and touch it directly with their own hands. However, it’s also an occasion for the artists to present their craft to the public and get some new inspiration as well. Considering the increasing success of the event in terms of public, Karimizuan hopes that the Design Market can become an official event – Matsuri ”Festival” - in Obama village in the coming years.