Charmed by the sea spreading beyond a tunnel of plants, the soft sand, and a certain beach in Onna Village, Okinawa, the decision to build a plantation house in this place was made in December 2018.
Over the course of four years, the owner undertook the challenge of personally handling every step of the process, from cultivating the wilderness to land development, foundation work, building construction, and interior design.
After gaining experience as a car parts designer at Nissan, I dedicated 20 years to the family construction business. My expertise in civil engineering proved valuable, especially up to the foundation work. Despite being a novice in carpentry, I studied through books and YouTube, successfully bringing The Guava Shack to life.
After my stint at an interior shop, I transitioned to become a web designer. I conceptualized and designed The Guava Shack according to my vision and entrusted the execution to my husband. As an occasional assistant, I pitched in with tasks like holding timber or painting. Currently, I handle the publicity aspects, including managing the website and social media.
Our Encounter with Hawaii
In November 2016, during our first trip to Hawaii, we were curious about what made Hawaii so beloved by many Japanese people. However, upon experiencing it firsthand, we were completely convinced. The sea, nature, the breeze, and the culture - we were utterly captivated. Even RYO, who had never been interested in the sea, found himself whispering that he could gaze at it forever. This encounter with Hawaii became the bridge to our new dreams.
Relocating from Yokohama to Okinawa
I always harbored a faint desire to build my own house. This desire gained clarity after visiting Hawaii - the idea of creating a home akin to those in Hawaii, in a similarly idyllic setting, and transforming it into a lodging facility took shape. Everything fell into place.
Deciding on the location was crucial. Living in Yokohama, we considered warm, coastal areas around the Kanto region, but it didn't quite resonate with us. Taking a bold step, we wondered, "Why not Japan's southernmost point?" and set foot in Okinawa for the first time. The vibrant blue sea, warm air, and an environment with tropical plants not seen on the mainland instantly convinced us.
Exactly one year after our trip to Hawaii, we made the move to Okinawa.
Searching for Land in Okinawa
We thoroughly explored Okinawa, from the southern to the northern parts, both on the main island and the outlying islands. After a year of living in Okinawa, we decided to purchase land in Onna Village. Its central location, about an hour's drive from Naha Airport in the south and the Churaumi Aquarium in the north, made it an ideal base for exploring. The breathtaking beauty of the nearby beach was the deciding factor, making it the perfect starting point for The Guava Shack.
The Guava Shack's construction journey began with a visit to a talented architect in Okinawa, known for creating beautiful American-style houses. When I shared our plans, instead of dismissing them as impractical, he encouraged us, saying, "Why not? It's a great idea." He went above and beyond, reviewing our drawings and even offering to include our lumber in an import order from Canada. The completion of The Guava Shack wouldn't have been possible without his support.
Over the course of about five months, I translated the ideas in my mind into drawings. Finally, in May 2019, construction began. The untouched land was leveled with a shovel truck, pipes were laid beneath the soil, and as a practice run for building the main structure, we started with the reception building.
Though I usually worked alone, during the fast-paced foundation concrete work, friends lent a helping hand. By the end of 2019, we had completed the outdoor lounge.
Construction Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic
While considering the possibility of enlisting help from others to expedite construction, the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the world. Faced with the prospect of opening without potential visitors, we decided to proceed at our own pace, working diligently alone.
We raised the frame, attached the exterior walls, put on the roof, and installed the windows. Around this time, we also started planting the garden. Thanks to the early planting, the garden had flourished by the time we were ready to open.
By the end of 2020, the building itself was largely completed.
Becoming a Jack-of-All-Trades
I thought, "If I'm doing this, I might as well handle the electrical work myself," so I studied in between construction tasks and obtained an electrical contractor's license. This allowed me to efficiently tackle electrical wiring alongside interior work.
Despite the newfound versatility, progress was slow when working alone. I tiled the kitchen, crafted a U-shaped custom kitchen, and built a custom bed and surrounding bookshelves in the bedroom. Each of these tasks spanned several months, and before I knew it, a year had passed.
When we started, I thought it would take about a year and a half to complete, but after two and a half years, the construction was still ongoing.
Finally Completed and Open for Business
After painting the entire interior in pure white and completing the toilet construction, we crafted furniture and frames, carefully selected fixtures, and went through meticulous finishing touches. As we worked through the extensive to-do list, the end began to come into view.
For the final major task, we built a staircase for the parking lot and access to the facility. At the entrance, we had a wall art symbolizing The Guava Shack created by the designer ACOZ.
After four full years from purchasing the land, we finally opened our doors on December 20th.
the Guava Shack