House Shopping in Japan: Millcreek Homes

The Mrs. and I have been house shopping for a few years now, and we've seen dozens of offerings by the bigger housing companies in Japan such as Sekisui House, PanaHome, Tama Home, and Mitsui House. The designs offered by these companies, while modern and (mostly) attractive, all suffer the same types of flaws, though: their best homes are clearly not designed for young families.

Since moving to 柏市 from 岐阜県, we've been fortunate enough to find some more offerings, including some that offer very western-style homes. One such company is Millcreek Homes, who seems to have something very close to what the wife and I would like to buy in the near future. We were invited to walk through a recently constructed house not too far from here and, while it's not yet completed, it's quite a bit more family friendly than we've seen from the competition.

Here are a few pictures from the visit.

The Exterior

Millcreek House | Exterior (Full)

Millcreek House | Exterior (Up Close)Millcreek House | Exterior (Porch)Millcreek House | Exterior (Kitchen)Millcreek House | Exterior (Front Door)Millcreek House | Exterior (Lead Up)Millcreek House | Exterior (Living Room Sliding Door)

One interesting fact to note is that the exterior panels are made neither of wood nor aluminum, but instead concrete. This rock-like material is used extensively in every construction project I've seen in Japan, but this is the first time I've heard of it being used as siding. When we asked the sales rep about it, he informed us that it's a requirement due to building codes. While it's true that concrete is a lot less flammable than wood, I do wonder how easy it would be to replace a panel or two should they become cracked from earthquakes, storms, or general age.

The Interior

Millcreek House | Interior (Living Room)Millcreek House | Interior (Guest Room)Millcreek House | Interior (The Entrance Hall From Upstairs)Millcreek House | Interior (Washlet)Millcreek House | Interior (Huge Closets Everywhere)Millcreek House | Interior (Looking at the Entrance from the Living Room)

The closets in this home are incredible. You could hide an entire classroom of elementary school children in each, and there were five closets throughout the house. Incredible storage capacity! On top of this, the homes can come with CAT6 cabling throughout the house, which is something I'm seriously considering. I don't want to have wireless access points throughout the house, but instead put some 10GBit Ethernet to use and ensure the bits can fly through the house without bogging anyone down. The wireless will be used mainly to surf the web. Content will be delivered via cables.

The Kitchen

Millcreek House | Kitchen (Wide View)

Millcreek House | Kitchen (Stove)Millcreek House | Kitchen (Island & Sink)Millcreek House | Kitchen (Oven Space)

We took quite a few pictures of the upstairs, too … but I'll save those for another post. This one is sure to take a while to load as it is.

Wrap-Up

All in all, the Mrs. and I come away more impressed with the homes produced by Millcreek every time we visit. While we haven't yet finalized our decision, this company is leaps and bounds ahead of the competition when it comes to who will win our money.

Kashiwa's Field of Dreams?

A Snowy Field In Japan With Footsteps …

This field is directly in front of my house, and has been fallow since the wife and I moved to 柏市. A farmer will come along every two months to till the soil and, aside from this, there is never a human seen on this relatively large plot of land. Considering how people tend to use each spare bit of ground to grow vegetables around the cities in Japan, I've wondered why this particular field has been left empty for so long. Thanks to yesterday's dusting of snow, it seems the answer has presented itself: the field is haunted.

It is not uncommon to see footsteps on this field after it has been tilled, after a rainfall, or after it snows. What is uncommon, though, is a set of footsteps that reach all the way across the field. We can see that four sets of prints are leading from the middle of the field and no further. This clearly indicates only one of two possibilities:

  • people stand in the middle of the field for great lengths of time, then leave the area only after the soil looks untouched
  • the exit from Hotel California has been found
  • ghosts of deceased baseball players return to Earth to play the game they love

The first two are about as absurd as homeopathy, so that leaves only the third explanation … right?

An Accident Waiting To Happen

Walking the Dog Never Looked So Easy

Walking the dog never looked so easy.

The More Things Change ...

In the three years that Reiko and I have lived together in Japan, we've moved a total of 4 times.  This is an insane number to be sure, but it's also something that will likely not change until we buy our home some time in the next five to seven years.  Unfortunately, when work or family demands that we move, we have little choice but to listen.

アーウィン山That said, there are certainly some advantages to moving around the country; namely the scenery.  Outside the first home that Reiko and I lived in after marriage we were greeted with the wonderful view of アーウィン山.  Now, you're probably wondering why a mountain in Japan has a foreigner's name, and not just any name … but mine.  The reason is simple: the mountain didn't have a name according to any map or sign, so I gave it one.  アーウィン山 stands a stately 112m high and is covered in trees, all of which are less than 70 years old.  80 years ago the mountain was completely bare, so I'm told.

The Shaved Mountain in 各務原市In January of this year, there was a bit of a medical emergency in the family, so Reiko and I moved back in with her parents in order to help them with day-to-day activities, as well as to save for our future home purchase.  On nice mornings, the Mrs. and I would often go for a walk around the block and take in some fresh air before I had to run off to work.  While on these walks we would see a mountain that is known to everyone around 各務原市 for it's half-naked appearance.  What's interesting is that a little behind the exposed sections of mountain is a small golf course.  If it wasn't for a bit of peeking around on Google Maps, I never would have even known the course existed.

Outside the Window in 柏市As many people know, at the end of June I threw caution to the wind and completely ignored the various reasons I said I would never live in Tokyo to accept a position at a young software company and make the move to 柏市 in 千葉県.  The view from the windows here is quite different from what I had grown accustomed to in 岐阜県.  There are no mountains here.  The land is mostly flat, aside from a few hills here and there to add some variety while riding a bike to and from the train station every day.  But there's a lot of green; something that both the Mrs. and I believe is quite important.  On top of that, there are literally dozens of young families all around us, making this a very young part of 柏市 … not that I'm complaining.  With all the young children running around outside, I'm sure that the Mrs. and I will have less to worry about when we, one day, have a child and they want to go outside to play with friends.

All in all, I like this new place in 千葉県. The traffic is crazy. The trains are always packed. The sidewalks are non-existant. The grocery stores don't have as great a selection of fresh produce.  But, despite all of these differences, this new place already feels like home.  I hope that Reiko and I enjoy living here for the next few years as the next chapter of our lives begins: Jason Earns Some Coin.