You have probably read articles proclaiming things like “FREE houses in the Japanese countryside” or similar. Although you can get old houses for free or near free, these are often in deep countryside, up a mountain, inaccessible, with no running water or just too far from anywhere to be practical.
There are plenty of properties in rural Japan that have a lot of potential however, as many expats have already found out. Some people buy a property that is in fairly good condition and move in immediately, while others buy old folk houses that need a lot of work, but make stunning houses once renovated. People tend to add modern kitchens and bathrooms, more natural lighting and a garden, while retaining the original wooden planks in the ceiling and traditional designs of the houses. Whether you are after a cheap house which is move-in ready or a dirt-cheap fixer-upper, here are some resources you might find useful.
This is a blog about properties which you can find in the countryside around Japan. It is interesting to read and you can search by price or area.
You can search for abandoned/very old houses by prefecture.
You can search for properties by prefecture (https://www.inakakurashi.jp/object/list/find/?kind=0&unq=RM1443163483SN). It covers all of Japan and has quite good detail and photos.
You can search for properties by prefecture. It has some photos and fairly good detail.
This covers properties in Hyogo, Okayama and surrounding areas.
You can search for properties by prefecture or area. It has good details and covers all of Japan.
You can search for properties using a map of Japan. It covers all of Japan and has photos but quite small ones.
You can search for properties by area using a map.
This lists foreclosed properties available for auction. The same thing in Japanese is at https://www.bit.courts.go.jp/app/top/pt001/h01. You are not allowed to enter the property before the auction so it can be hard to decide whether to buy or not. There are often outstanding building association fees you will be expected to pay in this situation too.
You can search for properties by price, location, environment and more. There are not a lot of properties but the search function is good.
A modern website which features good listings including photos and videos. You can search by area or type of property.
Focused on Nagano Prefecture.
Old fashioned website that is hard to browse but potentially a useful resource.
Properties in the Kansai and Kinki areas.
The listing of the well known site Homes.
Akiya at Home
You can search by area or map. It’s a modern website which is easy to browse.
Really modern website which is easy to browse and built specifically to encourage people to move to the countryside. Has listings on the site as well as links to other cities’ Akiya banks
Good for finding mountainous land.
Good for finding farm land.
Of course it is important to note that only a small percentage of available properties are listed online. If a certain area interests you, go there and speak to the town hall, the locals, get connections and you will find more opportunities.
-Make sure that you are buying the property and the land, as in Japan a “land lease” is common, and you may find that someone else owns the land.
-Many places offer subsides to move to the countryside, especially for young people and families. Search” 補助金” and the area you are interested in.