June 4, 2018
  • HomeAway K.K.
  • Japan Kominka Association
  • Rakuten LIFULL STAY, Inc.

HomeAway, Japan Kominka Association, and Rakuten LIFULL STAY to Collaborate to Promote Traditional Japanese Folk Houses and Regional Revitalization

- Kominka to be used as vacation rentals aimed at foreigners visiting Japan -

Tokyo, June 4, 2018 - HomeAway, part of the Expedia Group and one of the world’s largest vacation rental sites with more than two million diverse and unique properties in 190 countries, the Japan Kominka Association, and Rakuten LIFULL STAY, Inc. agreed today on a business partnership to use traditional folk houses (kominka) as vacation rentals with the aim of increasing the recognition and value of kominka among domestic and overseas tourists in Japan, and accelerating the revitalization of local tourism.

Through this partnership, the three parties will use kominka as vacation rental properties to convey the charms of these houses and local communities to Japanese and foreign travelers and strengthen efforts to encourage longer stays. As part of this partnership, the Japan Kominka Association has established the “Kominka Accommodation Certification,” a set of standards for using the kominka as accommodation facilities. The certification system consists of 20 items*1, and kominka appraisers certified by the Japan Kominka Association evaluate each house to ensure the safe and secure property development. Kominka that have been evaluated and meet the standards are issued a “Certified Traditional House logo” (Figure 1) sticker that can be placed on the property, making it easier for visitors and tourists to recognize them. The properties will also be introduced on HomeAway’s website as “certified traditional folk houses.” By promoting kominkan and local community charms to the 40 million users from 190 countries who visit their site each month and carrying out a variety of marketing activities, HomeAway aims to encourage long-term stays. Rakuten LIFULL STAY will support the development of kominka properties and their operation across Japan.

In entering the partnership, the Japan Kominka Association established the Kominka Owners Club to raise awareness about owning and using kominka. The Kominka Owners Club allows members to jointly own kominka, which can reduce the cost and lower the barriers to becoming an owner of such properties. Members of the Kominka Owners Club can also stay in kominka owned by other members. According to a survey*2 carried out by the Japan Kominka Association, there are about 1.28 million kominka in Japan. The Japan Kominka Association estimates that out of these, over 640,000 kominka can be turned into vacation rental properties, if renovation work is carried out. Through the Kominka Owners Club, the Japan Kominka Association aims to increase the number of kominka and give more people the opportunity to enjoy staying in traditional folk houses by lowering the barriers to ownership.

According to a survey of about 1,000 people in seven countries conducted by HomeAway, more than 90% of families and groups, the main users of HomeAway, expressed interest in staying at a kominka (Figure 2). Foreigners visiting Japan tend to be interested in Japanese culture and history and want to experience how the Japanese live. For foreigners who like long stays with their families or groups, staying at a kominka is expected to become an attractive reason for traveling.

Japan’s inbound demand is steadily growing, with the number of foreign visitors to Japan in April 2018 increasing 12.5% year-on-year to 2.901 million visitors*3, and travel that focuses on experiences is expected to increase in the future. Through the partnership, the three parties will actively promote the use of kominka to meet the diverse inbound demand.


  • ■Partnership overview and role of each party
  • Figure 1: Certified Traditional House logo
  • igure 2: Attitudes toward the use of HomeAway kominka

Survey sample: 1,021 people over the age of 18 from the USA, UK, France, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, and New Zealand. Survey conducted in April 2018.

*1 The 20 items include earthquake resistance, airtightness, comfort, and whether the property meets the criteria to be a kominka
*2 May 2018 survey by the Japan Kominka Association
*3 May 17, 2018 media materials from the Japan National Tourism Organization

Date of establishment: 2005
Location: Austin, Texas, USA
Details of business: HomeAway, part of the Expedia Group, is one of the world’s largest vacation rental websites and is headquartered in Austin, Texas. It is an online reservation platform that operates and offers over two million diverse and unique properties in 190 countries. HomeAway helps create memories that last a lifetime by specializing in whole properties so that time spent with family and friends is relaxing and private. One of its advantages is the excellent value for money to be had when people stay in groups. For the hosts that own the properties, HomeAway offers easy online services from property registration to managing reservations to help attract more guests from around the world. For more information, visit the HomeAway website (https://www.homeaway.jp).

Japan Kominka Association
Date of establishment: 2011
Location: 2-7-26 Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Details of business: The Japan Kominka Association is a national organization made up of local Japan Kominka Associations around Japan, consisting of 14,000 certified kominka traditional folk house appraisers who are active across the country in passing on the kominka housing heritage to younger generations. Kominka appraisers, who are members of the association, inspect the quality of kominka to determine whether they are usable and propose whether they can be kept. In addition, a reconstruction standards study committee that includes experts is preparing guidelines for rebuilding (renovation methods) kominka so that more people can enjoy them, such as by ensuring earthquake safety, alleviating the coldness and darkness of houses, and clarifying maintenance management methods and maintenance schedules.

Rakuten LIFULL STAY, Inc.
Address: Otemachi Financial City Grand Cube 3F
1-9-2 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Representative: Representative Director Munekatsu Ota
Details of business: Providing services related to vacation rental platform, etc.
Date of establishment: March 2017
Website: https://www.rakuten-lifull-stay.co.jp/

*Please note that the information contained in press releases is current as of the date of release.

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