Apartment renovation in the middle of Tokyo is a DIY inspiration. 

In Japan, the 23rd of September has been dubbed “Real Estate Day“, as this month is considered a busy time for real estate, and the number “23” consists of the numbers 2(”fu”)10(”dou”)3(”san”), with “fudousan” meaning “real estate”.

Our Japanese-language reporter Go Hatori decided this would be a great opportunity to take a walk down memory lane with a personal real estate highlight — that time he renovated a rental property in Tokyo in his early 20s.

Go is now in his 40s, so 20 years have passed since he rented that property, which was in such a hellish state that the owner allowed him to do whatever he wanted with it. However, he still remembers the process as if it were yesterday, so he whipped out his photos to show us all the renovation, which took place inside an apartment block a five-minute walk away from Shinanomachi Station in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward.

▼ Shinanomachi Station is right in a busy area of the metropolis.

The rent was 52,000 yen (US$473.31) per month and the apartment had a floor size of around 21.5 square metres (231.4 square feet). It was leased to Go as an office space, but even though it wasn’t classified as a residential property, for some reason the owner said that if a man were to rent the space they could live there as well.

Also, unless there was some major damage to the place, Go’s security deposit would be returned in full, which isn’t always the case with rentals in Japan, especially if you were to completely renovate the space, which Go was allowed to do.

▼ This little manga snippet shows Go’s first reaction to the space, where he says “It stinks of mould!” and “It smells like death!

We can almost smell the mould ourselves just by looking at Go’s photos of the apartment, especially when you can see the true extent of the damaged concrete on one of the walls.

Despite the state of disrepair, Go had a vision for this space, and it took half a year and 1 million yen ($9,103.36) to eventually see that dream come to life. His photos of the process show just how far patience and determination can take you, and Go hopes his experience will inspire others to take the same leap he did to make their own dreams a reality.

▼ Go started at rock bottom, pretty much literally, as the apartment was located on the ground floor of a multi-tennant building, behind a set of stairs.

▼ His cosy little rental was behind this door…

▼ …although let’s face it — there’s certainly nothing cosy about this space.

▼ Every corner of the room was filthy.

▼ As he inspected the area, Go couldn’t help but wonder what had gone on here in the past.

▼ The walls were dirty and the lino on the floor was decrepit.

▼ The air in the room was heavy with the scent of mould.

▼ Go was brave enough to turn on the vintage air conditioner, and when he did, little bits of cockroach poo flew out at him.

▼ At least there was a working Japanese-style toilet included, but that too, needed some cleaning.

▼ There was a gas outlet, but nothing to attach it to.

▼ And there was a surprise electrical outlet behind the veneer wall.

▼ None of that fazed this spirited, young 22-year-old, though, so Go simply got to work.

▼ He started by peeling off the veneer panels on the concreted side of the room…

▼ …which revealed the true extent of the mould.

▼ He pulled out nails that had been inserted into the concrete…

▼…and removed the sink full of cockroach eggs.

It was dirty work, but stripping everything back was the best way to tackle the mould problem and really create a fresh, clean space.

The veneer panels merely hid the mould on the concrete but Go was determined to fix the problem rather than simply conceal it.

▼ And there was A LOT of mould to deal with.

▼ Day after day, Go did what he could, chipping away at small tasks like separating the garbage and disposing of it correctly…

▼ …sweeping dust from the floor, with a gas mask on to protect his airways…

▼ …and bringing in vacuum cleaners and power tools to help with the makeover.

▼ He used a grinder to cut through and smooth off the nails that remained in the concrete.

▼ He also scrubbed and sprayed the mould off the concrete

The mould removal was a particularly tough job, but by the time he’d finished, the difference in look, and smell, was remarkable.

Go decided to keep the veneer panelling on one side of the room that wasn’t affected by mould, and once the walls were sparkling clean, he gave them a fresh undercoat of paint.

▼ He then opted for a bright lick of yellow for the walls, to really brighten up the space.

After trying out a number of different colours for the ceiling, Go decided to leave it white, as it made the room feel light and airy. And when the room feels light, Go’s spirit feels light too.

Go painted the baseboards black for contrast, and he liked the effect so much he decided to go with black flooring.

▼ He carefully glued the black lino squares down one by one.

▼ Once that was done, the room was finally complete!

▼ After six months, the room had been transformed from a dank and grey uninviting space into a fresh and cheery apartment!

▼ Even the sink was sparkling, providing a splash of red colour in the corner.

All Go had to do now was move all his work stuff into the room, as he decided to only use it as an office space, and when he did that it became the mancave/workspace of his dreams!

Go was able to store his scooter in here as well, and the retro Capcom arcade game and PC monitor gives you an idea of what it was like in Go’s office 20 years ago.

▼ At the time, he and a designer friend of his worked on producing a manga periodical here together.

However, after only about half a year of working here, Go became ill and ended his career as a manga artist. At the same time, they decided to close up their little yellow office.

Sometimes Go wonders what happened to the bright office space he invested so much time and money in, but instead of feeling a sense of wistful nostalgia for the place, he feels a sense of pride that he was able to commit to the project and see it through from beginning to end, especially at such a young age.

That bodes well for his current project, which is renovating an entire house in the Japanese countryside with our boss Yoshio, who bought the property with a parcel of land for a steal, at $9,100.

Images © SoraNews24
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