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Yuichi's slim treehouse sways as a nest in Japanese cypress

When builder/craftsman Yuichi Takeuchi was asked by a friend to build a treehouse as a second residence in Fujiyoshida– an area near the base of Mount Fuji and popular for vacation residences- Takeuchi set to work searching the trees and looking for a place to rent.

“People don’t really know much about treehouses so it was quite difficult to explain what we’re going to do, explains Takeuchi. “People get scared if something wrong happens; and there’s no foundation so what to do with their tax and things; rent, that kind of thing.”

He finally found a friend who was willing to lease some land (for a decade) in the backyard of his woodworking workshop. Takeuchi then invited friends/coworkers to camp out with him and brainstorm at the site. 

“I’m not a professional architect,” explains the Tokyo-based builder. “I don’t really design things I just enjoy what’s happening next. And this was designed by many of us just staying in this little house [the workshop floor] and sleep together, eat together and drink together and just keep talking about design and how we want so this was happening on the location.”

Together Takeuchi and his friends from Tree Heads & Co. began constructing a tiny cabin (“about 4 and a half tatami mats”) perched 20 feet high on two young trees. It’s constructed from Japanese cypress, mostly from trees felled by Takeuchi within a couple miles of the property.

The tiny elevated home is furnished with just a carpet- the part-time residents roll out sleeping bags at night- and a kitchen of rice cooker and camping stove.

“I at first didn’t like the height. I was afraid of heights,” explains Takeuchi. “Since I started to know the treehouses I forgot about that feeling and since then I’m kind of crazy about being in the trees…  if you go up in here it’s just simple, tree and me. That makes me feel very good and there’s no other reason, it’s just to feel good.”