The making of Sen…

Day 12

Yup, a bit of a jump.  So we’re figuring we just finished the second phase of “operation Sen guesthouse”.

Phase 1

Move our crap in, clean up the building well enough so we actually have a space to unpack our stuff into, then actually do the unpacking and placing. You (well I) would think this should be a fairly easy undertaking, day, maybe 2 should suffice no??  It took us 6 days to get this done; brutal cleaning of the building.  Let me back track a bit, the building (the future Sen) was originally a government ministry dormitory.  If you’ve ever read Alex Kerr, you know the issues associated with anything related to Japanese government ministries and how they spend money (well recycle tax payer money).  Not really going to get into but suffice it to say, this building came with TONS of stuff; we have so much porcelain now we could start a plate store.  We honestly have over 200 sake sets, 1000’s of random plates, ash trays and metal Japanese god statues.  So figuring out what we actually wanted, and cleaning out the huge storage room was brutal.  Also, just to make things interesting, the storage room hasn’t been cleaned (and probably not even glanced at) in over 20 years.  Cleaning the onsen also was no joke (thanks Kiyo!)

Phase 2

Start the renovation planning, and getting the building ready for the renovation.  Luckily we found an amazing construction/renovation guy (川中さん) to work with us on our renovations (friend of a friend of Nori’s sister).  We had a 4 hour pow-wow detailing everything we were going to have done and how to prepare for it.  Of course we want to do as much as possible, for both the experience factor and saving the cash; the construction guy (Kawanakasan) is keen to work with us on this. Nori’s father paid us a 3 day visit, giving us invaluable advice, tools and making Nori cook awesome Japanese breakfasts every morning.  He helped us remove the flooring and carpet in all of the private rooms, mixed dorm, cafe and dining room.  He also helped us figure out who to make the first partition we will be using in the mixed dorm to separate the guests (looking really good by the way).  So now I’m siting in our soon to be cafe surrounded by stacks of tiles and rolls of dirty carpet, thinking of all we’ve accomplished in only 12 days.  I’m definitely happy and pleasantly surprised that we were able to do so much with so little in such a short amount of time.

Phase 3 (starting tomorrow) is what we now plan to do before the carpenters/water guys come to start renovations.  It’ll consist of buying furniture, internet stuff, decoration planning, city administrative stuff/licenses.

We hope this blog will give some indication of what we’re going through setting up the guesthouse and figuring everything out.  Also we want to keep some sort of before and after record of the process and share some of our joys, tears and experiences.  がんばります!