How one Swedish millenial turned an abandoned Japanese home into a successful luxury Airbnb

A 30-year-old Swedish model, embarked on an extraordinary journey in Tokyo, Japan, by reviving abandoned houses into luxurious Airbnb rentals. His tale began with a fascination for Japanese culture during a 2015 modeling assignment, culminating in a permanent move to Tokyo in 2019. Armed with DIY skills acquired from his father, Wormann ventured into flipping neglected properties in Tokyo’s trendy districts. His most audacious project was the Sangenjaya House, a century-old “akiya” left vacant for over a decade. This article chronicles Wormann’s remarkable transformation, navigating challenges, and his vision for revitalizing Japan’s surplus of vacant homes. Julian Ryall writes this story for the Business Insider.

Anton Wormann, a 30-year-old Swedish model, made headlines with his remarkable venture in Tokyo, Japan, where he transformed abandoned houses into luxurious Airbnb rentals. Wormann’s fascination with Japanese culture began during a 2015 modeling assignment, leading to a permanent move to Tokyo in 2019. Drawing on DIY skills learned from his father, who specialized in property flipping in Sweden, Wormann ventured into the world of neglected Japanese homes.

His most ambitious project was the Sangenjaya House, a century-old “akiya” that had been vacant for over a decade. Despite facing daunting challenges such as termite infestations, heaps of trash, and unreliable contractors, Wormann undertook a massive renovation. The result was a stunning fusion of Scandinavian and Japanese design elements, featuring traditional tatami mats, fusuma sliding panels, and a modern kitchen equipped with top-of-the-line appliances. An outdoor bath, or rotenburo, graced the backyard.

Documenting his renovation journey on his YouTube channel, “Anton in Japan,” Wormann persevered through countless hurdles, firing and rehiring workers to meet his budget and deadline. With personal contacts in the real estate industry and local tradesmen, he successfully completed the Sangenjaya House within a year, putting in approximately 1,500 hours of his own labor and investing around $50,000 in materials and laborers.

By March, the Sangenjaya House was ready to welcome its first Airbnb guests, a dream come true for Wormann. He continues to cherish the property, hosting friends and eagerly anticipating his mother’s visit during the cherry blossom season.

Wormann’s inspiring journey doesn’t end here; he’s already planning his next akiya renovation and has authored a book filled with valuable advice for those considering a similar endeavor. His message to aspiring property owners in Japan is clear: don’t rush, stay focused, choose your desired area thoughtfully, and, most importantly, contribute to the local community. In a nation grappling with a surplus of vacant houses, Wormann’s story stands as a testament to the potential for revitalization and opportunity that lies within these abandoned structures.

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