Photo: Sanu Inc
lifestyle

Blurring the line between work and play: 'Workation' rentals become a thing in Japan

20 Comments
By Luke Mahoney, grape Japan

During COVID-19, the demand for various industries is increasing. Perhaps surprisingly, vacation villas fall within this category. Until recently, villas were naturally considered by most to be a place for resting and relaxing during a long vacation. However, with the mainstreaming of teleworking, it seems that the idea of "getting away from it all" may be a thing of the past. As such, "workations" are becoming more common, and residents are enjoying rental villas as they do so.

So-called workations are a recent phenomenon of the digital nomad era whereby residents travel to typical vacation areas while continuing their normal work routine. As the trend develops, more residents are seeking out villas for a much-needed change of scenery.

Workations on Twitter

Unsurprisingly, workation is a common buzzword on Twitter and other SNS platforms. Many residents noted:

“I had a workation in such a beautiful place today. It was too good!”

“I hope workations become more popular! Some people say that you have to go to the office every day to have a job, but I think those people are just afraid of change. It would be great if more and more hotels and private lodgings started workation plans.”

“It would be great if there were more places with WiFi and desks that would make it easier to work.”

“I hope that the workation will become more popular.”

“When I work while enjoying a nice view, I make a lot of progress. Take a walk, eat breakfast, relax in my room. I'm happy. I envy people who can workate every day”

"I decided to go to Okinawa for about five days from the end of the month. I'm looking forward to it. Maybe it's been 20 years since I’ve been to Okinawa.”

A home away from home

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"SANU 2nd Home" is offering "another home for living in nature" from autumn 2021. Early applications for initial members started earlier this year in April. With SANU, interested parties can stay at various bases, "SANU CABINs," all over Japan by registering as a member. As such, customers forego the hassle and expense of renting or purchasing properties on their own.

Prices and Amenities

Naturally, these 2nd homes are fully furnished. Properties include refrigerator, tableware and cutlery, seasoning, cooking utensils, shampoo and soap, washing machine, dryer and towels, high-speed WiFi, BBQ stove, speaker, two double beds, an island kitchen, dining table, work desk, wood stove, wood deck, smart lock, and screen.

Moreover, there is a quiet workspace where people can concentrate on work. For fun, there is a barbecue stove and a home theater screen. Costs include:

“Monthly membership fee: 55,000 yen.”

“Accommodation fees: Monday-Friday: Free. Friday-Sunday, public holidays, and the day before public holidays: 5,500 yen / night.”

“Cleaning fee: 3,300 yen.”

Properties are intended for up to four people (two per bed), but there is no charge for additional guests. During COVID-19, this type of break may be a welcome change of pace for many. If you live in Japan, and are interested, see their website here.

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© grape Japan

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

20 Comments
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Those pork barrel Shinkansen lines out to the sticks might actually start paying for themselves.

Bring it on!

7 ( +8 / -1 )

As Kohamuebisu has pointed out, real Japanese inaka is not for the faint of heart, certainly not for Westerners who value their privacy and free time to just chill. There is little privacy of chillin' in the traditional communities of Japan, just lots of busybodies, pressure to engage in group activities, back breaking work in all weathers and everyone knowing everyone else's business.

Had an Australian friend who rented a place in the boonies of Gunma, and one Saturday morning at 6am an old guy just strode into his genkan and yelled out it was time for Rajio Taisou at the local park.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Sanu's check in is at 3 p.m.. What is a customer supposed to do if they arrive in the morning? Work in their car? Or do they time their arrival at 3 p.m? working in their Tokyo home til noon, check in, unpack, have a shower, after which it's nearly dinner time.

Check out at 11. So be back in Tokyo at around 2-3 p.m., in the middle of the workday and resume work....back in Tokyo.

Typical Japanese planning. So rigid and so little consideration for customer needs.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Why not just move out there and travel into the city occasionally?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Let's run some numbers.

“Monthly membership fee: 55,000 yen.”

“Accommodation fees: Monday-Friday: Free. Friday-Sunday, public holidays, and the day before public holidays: 5,500 yen / night.”

“Cleaning fee: 3,300 yen.”

So if you stayed for the month and only had to have the place cleaned once, you're looking at:

55,000 + 5,500 x 30 + 3,300 or 173,800 for the month.

Totally worth it. (rolls eyes)

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Karuizawa is a fine example because it is possible to live somewhere with a vastly better environment than the city or suburbs, but still be protected from the duties, obligations, and general hassles that come with life in deeper inaka.

It should be noted that while teleworking allows people to work anywhere, the most depopulated/run-down parts of the countryside that need it most are unlikely to benefit because such areas will be the most remote (Aomori etc.) and also have the most ingrained community obligations that make living there difficult for city people. This may not affect you so much as a single gaijin on the outside of society, but every Japanese person knows what's in store for them. You will also get sucked in if you have a family and start sending kids to a local kindy or school.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Yes, it’s already very widespread and quite a disturbing nuisance. You can see those ‘working’ teams sitting and loudly chatting already in restaurants or hotel / hot spring lobbies anywhere. Sorry , but there falls the most delicious bites out of my mouth or the relaxation effect turns down to zero, if I see them hammering their computer keyboards or controversially discussing their next projects. Nothing against that working style, but not before other people or guests. Rent a conference room or a separated space for such meetings. That’s too expensive? Then better quickly close your almost bankrupt company, if you can’t afford the simplest business conditions.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

@Thomas, it's not quite as bad as you suggest; you don't have to pay for all 30 days, only Fridays through Sundays, national holidays, and days before holidays. So in a typical month, you might only have to pay 5500 yen x 12 or 14.

But then there's a limit of only four nights per stay. So I suppose you'd have to vacate several times. And pay another cleaning fee each time.

Looks like what could have been fun and relaxing isn't quite that way when you look deeper. Of course the confusing bureaucracy and stifling rules take a lot of the fun out of this situation.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

“I had a workation in such a beautiful place today. It was too good!”

“I hope workations become more popular! Some people say that you have to go to the office every day to have a job, but I think those people are just afraid of change. It would be great if more and more hotels and private lodgings started workation plans.”

“It would be great if there were more places with WiFi and desks that would make it easier to work.”

“I hope that the workation will become more popular.”

“When I work while enjoying a nice view, I make a lot of progress. Take a walk, eat breakfast, relax in my room. I'm happy. I envy people who can workate every day”

"I decided to go to Okinawa for about five days from the end of the month. I'm looking forward to it. Maybe it's been 20 years since I’ve been to Okinawa.”

the voices of the intelligent.

This could be exactly what the rural communities needed. Now working professionals can both work and contribute to the rural economies. I really hope this becomes the new normal.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

real Japanese inaka is not for the faint of heart,

That is true. The trick is to find a "besso" (holiday cottage) community. Check out Nagano, Nasu, Fukushima, etc., and be prepared to buy a car.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I'm still waiting that my company let me do teleworking (my job is 100% on a PC) and flextime so Workation? Look like dreaming....

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The comments on the small print make it sound like its all about getting you to pay 55,000 every month and then restricting how much you can go.

I know it's a dumb artist's impression, but if you got that much sun in a cabin in Japan during a season where deciduous trees have leaves, the place will be like a solar oven. Hotter than a parked car. 28C in your regular Cool Biz office will seem like heaven in comparison.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This seems like an overly complicated solution that have most of the disadvantages of the alternatives while offering only a limited set of advantages. People that would be able to spend in them would also have the means to go all the way to much better accommodations.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

"Blurring the line between work and play: 'Workation' rentals become a thing in Japan"

This is actually a great idea however not everyone can afford this due to COVID.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Those pork barrel Shinkansen lines out to the sticks might actually start paying for themselves.

Well, until people realize what its like to have several days in the countryside without a car to get around.

I've freelanced for twenty years' in the countryside and am all for teleworking. However, my life has not been a "workation" and I am not a "digital nomad".

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I'm glad we bought a second home in Karuizawa.

Having a house over there sure beats the high-rise tower mansion we live in now and costs far less.

The occasional travel into the city isn't that bad actually because of the availability of the Shinkansen.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

So if you stayed for the month and only had to have the place cleaned once, you're looking at:

55,000 + 5,500 x 30 + 3,300 or 173,800 for the month.

Totally worth it. (rolls eyes)

Worth it or not, its just not possible to stay a month... or even a week!

From their website:

*"Reservation Limit - Maximum length of stay : 4 nights*

Number of concurrent reservations permitted: 2 (only one at a time within the same month)"

0 ( +2 / -2 )

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