Using discarded materials, Matsuba Tomi has brought a 200-year-old folk house back to life as an inn. Spring has come, and she gathers bamboo shoots for cooking and display, and fills an old baby carriage with freshly picked flowers, creating a touch of seasonal beauty from discarded things. It's a life of value for all things, and of fun. Her hope is that guests bring a bit of those values back with them when they return to the city, passing them on to the next generation.
Since ancient times, the Japanese have believed that a life force resides in all creations.
Valuing and caring for the things we use, a "Zero Waste Life."
Pointing the way to better living for a new era.
A small mountain town in the San-in region of Western Japan.
Spring has finally come to this area known for its severe winter weather.
Here, an old folk house is run by Matsuba Tomi as an inn.
It was built using waste and recycled materials.
When we last visited, it was in the frozen winter.
This path was laid with bricks from
an old tile factory that were thrown away.
Materials like these will never be made again.
Using what was once trash, she renovated her inn.
When something breaks, she repairs it and continues to use it with care.
For spring the inn gets a new entryway hanging.
The once worn-out cloth is a patchwork of repairs, all done by Matsuba herself.
For a new guest, isn't a hanging like this
a bit of a shock?
It puts a face on what this place is.
Material like this isn't made anymore.
It's torn to pieces, but I still use it.
Quilting and patching it to use it
lets guests see my commitment.
See, the patchwork stands out
more than the rest.
I see what you mean...
Flowers are everywhere, giving guests the feeling that spring has truly come.
The flowerpots are all recovered or disused objects.
This used to be a baby carriage.
It's also something from the trash.
But doesn't it look lovely like this...
Built over 200 years ago, the inn was originally a samurai home.
Matsuba carried out her renovations while trying to preserve the place's atmosphere.
She took particular care in her efforts to refurbish the residence's kitchen...
...restoring the kitchen stove used by the original residents...
...and reusing a table and chairs recovered from an abandoned elementary school.
All her collection and repair work is aimed at creating a feeling of warmth.
I wanted the kitchen to be
as close to original as possible.
The kitchen was a place for
the whole family to gather, right?
A place to feel calm and relaxed.
I wanted to create such a place,
to preserve that kind of feeling.
The sound of a crackling fire...
the smell of smoke, and cooking...
I think this kind of traditional Japanese
living is beautiful, simply wonderful.
But since our generation has
almost completely abandoned it...
it will disappear unless we
pass it on to the next generation.
Many of the inn's staff have relocated from the city.
Completely different from other inns, they found it quite a surprising change.
When I first came here, I saw
the pot with the tree branch handle...
and realized this is a place
where all things are cherished.
Now, I try to find ways to work
with what's already there.
I've become much more concerned
with the story behind things.
Who made it, and how'd it get here?
I think it's because life here
is so different from other places.
The town Matsuba calls home is also blessed by nature's bounty.
- It's a good-looking bamboo shoot.
- It certainly is.
The skin looks good too.
You really get the aroma of bamboo.
Locally harvested produce is prominently featured in the food served at the inn.
And all the flowers on display are gathered from nearby fields and gardens.
I always have scissors on my bicycle,
so I can gather flowers anytime.
- Whenever you find them?
- That's right.
The everyday is full of things to enjoy.
This richness of living is
something we can all have.
I want to show everyone
that such a thing is possible.
That's the role I want for my inn.
The bamboo shoots she collected won't just be used for cooking.
The ordinarily discarded outer skin...
becomes a display to delight her guests.
Flowers in bamboo skins.
Cute, don't you think?
- Are they real?
- Of course.
No need for a vase.
An old stroller.
A baby carriage?
Apparently, she found it
in the trash just near here.
Really?! What a waste!
You could sell something like this.
- A fashionable antique.
- Very fashionable.
Women love this sort of thing.
I can't believe it was trash.
We should ask ourselves
if something is really trash.
Before throwing something away,
try to find some other use for it.
Even if you can't
live like this in the city...
It can be a model, informing
the choices we make, how we live...
and change society for the better.
I guess restoring a folk house
is about restoring a sense of place.
I hope by staying here guests
come to see value and beauty...
in places and things that
they may have missed before.
Would you like to blow on the fire?
Please, go ahead.
Really, can I?
How should I do it?
Ah, there you go. That's it.
Such a wonderful sound.
It's almost musical, isn't it?