It is not uncommon to hear laughter resonating throughout ohashi, a share house in Miyazu, a coastal city in Kyoto Prefecture. Present during such lively conversations in the renovated Japanese-style folk building that is over 100 years old is 23-year-old Honoka Kai, a "trainee manager" of the house who listens to occupants talk about their interactions with locals over drinks.

"Whenever I hear our occupants say they want to visit here again, I know they were able to discover how great this place is," Kai says.

Having moved from the prefectural capital Kyoto a year ago, Kai has been managing the facility and selling lemonade out of a popup food truck as a member of Hyakusho Inc., a company made up of young farmers.

She says Miyazu's greatest appeal is its calm sea, night sky full of brightly lit stars, and tranquil feeling of being away from fickly trends.

Honoka Kai (L) engages in a conversation at ohashi, a share house in the coastal city of Miyazu, Kyoto Prefecture.

Kai's journey began two years ago, when she was a senior in university. Unable to nail down what she really wanted to do, as others around her looked for post-college jobs, she hopped on her motorbike and began selling bottled soda.

Her entrepreneurial spirit caught the attention of the owner of a guest house in Miyazu. She visited the place and stayed for five days. During her visit, she talked with local business owners, who very much impressed her with their work ethic and strong desire to liven up the city.

Kai's responsibilities at her share house include doing reception work, making beds and showing new occupants how everything in their room works. She even cooks with the occupants and dines with them occasionally.

She also hosts an event once a month in which occupants can mingle with local residents. That is intended to show the occupants the human side of the city -- something they would find it difficult to experience just through sightseeing.

"I want to create a place that's inviting to anyone, whether they're young or old, like how a bath house is," Kai says. Starting this fiscal year, she will be running the house completely by herself.

Kai envisions applying her hobbies of writing and photography to create content that showcases local business owners. "I want our occupants to have an authentic Miyazu experience through meeting people they can't find at any other place."

The Kyoto Shimbun

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