Imagine booking your next Airbnb stay—with an entire town as your host. That’s the idea behind Yoshino Cedar House, the home-sharing site’s first-ever guesthouse, set along a river 65 miles south of Kyoto in rural Yoshino, a town surrounded by the cedar forests of Japan’s Nara prefecture.
Yoshino Cedar House is the inaugural project from Airbnb’s new Samara design and innovation studio, created by cofounder Joe Gebbia to explore the company’s next frontier of service offerings.
Part guest lodgings, part community center, the building was designed to boost the town’s economy and support the aging, dwindling population, a common demographic in rural Japanese communities.
Locals run and manage the house, and all profits stay within the community. The project started as an exhibit in Tokyo before the structure was permanently installed in Yoshino, and if the experiment proves successful, Samara will look at doing similar projects in other rural villages around the world.
What to expect: an elegant, wood-paneled structure that Samara created in partnership with the Tokyo-based architect Go Hasegawa and local builders. Interiors are decorated with cups, trays, and other objects handcrafted by local artisans. A ground-floor communal area serves family-style meals and locally made sake. The two bedrooms on the upper floor can accommodate up to eight guests a night. And it’s all bookable, of course, on Airbnb.