Tokyo Dreaming: To Build a Home
Tokyo has long been famed for its dense crowds and cloud-brushing skyscrapers. This, however, hasn’t stopped Yuko Miyazaki and her husband Satoshi from fulfilling one long-held dream – finding space one of the world’s most densely packed cities to build a family home.
The couple have created a clean-lined contemporary house in the Ikejiri district – a quick bicycle hop from Daikanyama, where their six-year-old daughter Haruka and son Kai, aged four, go to school (and also home to Caramel). Like many Tokyo residences, the house sits on a small plot of land but grows up towards the sky: it spans three levels, plus a roof terrace, with the front covered in large windows allowing sunlight to pour inside.
Inside the house, the art-filled interiors are as serene and stylish as Yuko is in person – from the mix of teak and stainless steel in the kitchen to the William Morris bedroom wallpaper (complete with a swinging rope chair at the foot of the bed – a favourite spot for the children).
Here, Yuko reveals how she and her husband transformed their dreams of building a family home into reality.
What was the biggest challenge in building a family home in Tokyo?
Tokyo is an architectural melting pot – there is so much diversity. But homes tend to be very small here compared to other cities, due to the expensive price of land. Our biggest challenge was building on a small plot of land. But we made it work. My husband drew the schematic design and we selected together all the interior finishes.
What is the concept of the house?
We wanted to build several small layered levels to create enough space for our family to live comfortably. Each floor has one simple room, with one side covered with large south-facing windows. These windows are much bigger than in a normal Japanese house and create a special sense of space.
How would you describe your style?
It’s very simple. I think the house is a good example of how simplicity can create a very comfortable aesthetic for a family home. We also tried to balance the natural and the new – so there is teak wood ceiling in the kitchen and William Morris wallpaper in the bedroom alongside more contemporary touches such as the copper-top dining table and a black leather lounge chair.
Where is your favourite place in the house?
The kitchen! It has simple metal worktops, with two sinks (as I plan to hold a friend’s cookery classes here). The space is also good for ikebana flower arranging, which I enjoy in my spare time. I like that the kitchen stove has three types of heat on the worktop – electric, gas and a grill for fish or meat – plus lots of storage and a hidden pantry space.
Finally, which three buildings do you find the most inspiring in Tokyo?
The Nezu Museum in Aoyama (http://www.nezu-muse.or.jp/en/); Hillside Terrace in Daikanyama (http://hillsideterrace.com/ – also home to Japan’s Caramel flagship); and Asakura House, also in Daikanyama (https://www.city.shibuya.tokyo.jp/eng/est/asakura.html). All three of these buildings have a wonderful relationship with their gardens or landscape and make me feel relaxed and comfortable.
Words and images by Danielle Demetriou