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Renovating old homes into tech offices brings new life to small Japanese town

Architects Kosuke Bando and Issei Suma have managed to attract tech startups to an otherwise unremarkable small town

For years, the population of Kamiyama—a picturesque little town in Japan’s Tokushima Prefecture—has been shrinking along with its economy. Between 1995 and 2008, the village’s main shopping street went from hosting nearly 40 stores to just a handful. Remarkably, though Kamiyama was growing short on people, it did have a few valuable attractions: gorgeous green spaces, lovely old buildings, and high-speed internet worthy of any modern city.

It was those three elements that inspired architects Kosuke Bando and Issei Suma to try out an unusual idea: renovate the town’s existing empty structures into beautiful contemporary workspaces and convince tech companies to open satellite offices there.

Incredibly, the plan worked. In 2010, Bando transformed an 80-year-old tenement house in Kamiyama into a temporary workspace and gallery. Two years later, Suma convinced an old college friend—the founder of a business card management company—to open a satellite office in the town.

Today, a dozen new companies have established offices in Kamiyama, many occupying older buildings rehabbed by Bando and Suma. New shops and businesses have opened along the main street to cater to the town’s new workforce. The office boom has even earned the verdant town a nickname: "Green Valley." Check out the full story over on Spoon & Tomago.