Our studio - Filled with books.
Imagine being inside but feeling as if you are outside.
That is the type of feeling we wanted to create when we designed and built our studio at Nojiri Lake. Nojiri Lake is a national park located in Northern Nagano. There are three main villages tangent to Nojiri lake: Kamiyama International Village (NLA), Sudakawa Village, and Nojiri Village where our studio is located.
When we were taking walks through the park and through the villages during the snowy winter season, we came upon an old wooden building. Although the building was in poor condition, we saw the possibilities of what it could become.
1940 Nojiri Lake
Photo taken from (http://www.oldtokyo.com/international-village-nojiri-ko-lake-nojiri-nagano-prefecture/)
Nojiri village once upon a time was a farming village. Although it had very little financial activity, it was a serene village with a natural landscape with farmland, rice ponds, and thatched roof homes surrounded by a lake and neighboring mountains. When transportation became widely affordable, more people from the cities started to come to the Lake. This is when the town started to change for the better or for the worse.
Much of the prosperities facing the lake, which was the location of many of the rice ponds where sold off as private property. They were transformed into hotels, and leisure services such as water sports, boating, and fishing. Within 100 years, the town has undergone significant changes; an agrarian based village has been transformed into a town where most of its inhabitants travel elsewhere to make a living.
During the financial bubble in the 80's ~ 90's many people traveled to Nojiri Lake to spend their summer days in the cool lake. Most of the year’s earnings were made during this period. Roads where built, and old homes where torn down to make 3 story concrete buildings. Money was flowing in from the cities, and the town was experiencing a moment of financial affluence.
Motor boats for fishing @ Nojiri Lake
But time has changed. Many of the large buildings that were built are undergoing decay from the inability of maintenance of the aging population. Boating and bass fishing seems to be inviting a group of people that do not care about the cleanliness of the lake. Our lake continues to get contaminated from the leisure activities, and our unnatural and inconsiderate lifestyles created from our disconnection from nature. If all of us living in the village was dependent on the lake as our source of drinking water, nobody would dare to contaminate it.
There are farmers in Nigata prefecture that uses the lake water to irrigate their rice fields. It is disturbing to know that the water contains gasoline from boats, and pea and poop from those that go out fishing.
Mt. Myoko in Autumn 2017
The main reason we decided to place our studio in this very location is to be a presence of sustainable living. We hope to grow as a positive force, which embraces the difficulties of our social outcome as opportunities for creativity. To bring happiness, fruitfulness, and a high standard of living through love, design, and education.