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The Makuhari Club is my studio apartment (actually technically a 1 bedroom if you can believe that, by urban Japanese standards) in Makuhari, Chiba, Japan. It isn't full on Tiki for several reasons, but think of it as a Mid-Century Modern studio condo with intentional tiki accents in one of the resort style communities in San Diego or Van Nuys or Palm Springs, or even a bit more inland on Hawaii or Guam, I suppose. More of a lounge than a bar. Between my father's 24 years in the Air Force and my own travels I have a lot of knickknacks from around Asia/Pacific. So I am slowly adding stuff.

A different kind of vacation space than many of the home tiki builds, perhaps because I actually DO live on a Pacific island. Honshu is a Pacific island. And as I live on the Chiba peninsula, which is more like a smaller island, it is far more subtropical or tropical than say... Gunma or Nagano which are... very much mountainous in the middle of Honshu.

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Makuhari is a seaside commercial and residential community about 90 minutes commute from central Tokyo, about 45 minutes from the fandom and electronics hub of Akihabara. Affluent and on the rise, it has three sections: beach side, which includes the Zozo Stadium where the Chiba Lotte Marines baseball team plays, a major resort hotel (APA), and lots of really nice high rise condos that I would get charged just for looking at too long. Ironically, as an urban beach, it has serious issues with cleanliness, so I don't actually use my own neighborhood beach, I go to beaches on the other side of the peninsula. Between the two train lines (commercial high-rises, downtown area, shopping districts like the mall, the Costco, and Home/Cainz, our answer to Home Depot or Lowes, and the convention center where the Tokyo Video Game Expo and the Tokyo Auto Salon are held) and residential on the other side of the second train line. I live in the residential. I have a nice "cityscape" view of the "between the tracks" "downtown" but no view of the beach itself. I am situated on a hill above one of the canals.

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Starting around this time of year, the area gets muggy, rainy, hot in the day, colder at night. It will stay hot and humid until about October, when it will lose humidity, and depending on sun exposure may nor may not stay hot. Last year was amazing, because the first two weeks of October were lower humidity, higher temperature... so beach time... in October. Fantastic. Winters are mild, except in January and February where significant snow (in my opinion) is not only possible, but likely.

For most of the year, however, the area is lush with overgrown greenery and there are many palm trees. Palm tree pups start popping up in public walkways along the canals (such as mine), and the city will just mow them over. This year, I have decided to save some of them and relocate them. Free palms! Who could say no to free palms! DSC_0103FQrJCyvVsAcDKlDFQrJDwmVIAUiBeuFQrJEoMVUAIXD-E

[ Edited by SouthSeasKat on 2022-04-21 02:15:04 ]

Lots of potential there! I know living space is at a premium in Japan, but you've got the makings of a good permanent getaway. And yes, re-homing those palms makes a lot of sense. The money otherwise spent buying them from a nursery is better used on other decor!

Very nice! I had to look up Makuhari, Chiba, Japan. Not as far south as say, Okinawa, but still warm weather most of the year.

H
Hamo posted on Thu, Apr 21, 2022 8:03 PM

Welcome to TC, Kat. Your patio is very welcoming--now it needs a big, carved tiki.

Thank you all. I look forward to comments and advice.

Did a half day at work and then dug me up some palms and potted them up. Free palms! Free palms!

Rearranged some stuff.

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I kind of feel weird posting so many updates without there being responses, but I guess TC is still a bit slow as word filters out that it is back up.

My neighbors (houses to the left and right) and I did some major grounds work around the Makuhari Club's building:

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Then one of my other neighbors had some extra stone shape brick things (and a bunch of other stuff, she is an exterior designer and is revamping her own house/company office down the street) and so we added that around the weird patch of land that for some reason just... is like the asphalt was never completed to the back fence.

I'm thinking maybe some of those palms can go in there? Or something else? What do y'all recommend? Got any ideas, Jayme?

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I also noticed my monstera mother plant was starting to burn (I lost the leaf hanging out over the balcony railing), so I had to move it close to the door so that it is out of direct sunlight. It does have one new leaf coming out of the bottom, so hopefully it will adjust and survive. It was wintering in a dark corner, and I think this change of weather from last freeze to beach weather in a month was too much for it.

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UPDATE: Some night shots, because that's really when the fun starts, right?

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[ Edited by SouthSeasKat on 2022-04-23 05:02:24 ]

Your PLANTS help to create a very relaxing atmosphere. Nice work.

Thanks, Thor.

Unfortunately we had a bit of a typhoon come through last night and the porch and grounds are already messed up and I have to clean up and put everything back.

I guess that, too, is part of living on a Pacific island. Oops.

H
Hamo posted on Tue, Apr 26, 2022 9:22 PM

I see you are watching Tiki With Ray. Sorry to hear about the typhoon disturbing the patio.

So, haven't had a whole lot of to update about, honestly. Thought I'd share a photo of the jungle wall around the bamboo standing desk/stereo set up thing I have going on. Inside there has been quite a lot of plant growth.

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It has been so hot here that the plants outside on the patio really weren't doing well (temps in the 90s, with heat index well over 100). And not great for people either, so it hasn't seen much use. Moved most of them back inside. All but two of the palms I have tried domesticating died, except the smallest one, and one which has died back and has a new frond coming out but has been stuck that way for two months.

The BIGGEST news is The Makuhari Club will likely be moving in the next year. As long as my residency renewal has no issue this month, I will be purchasing a house! Right now there are two possible location choices:

Within Makuhari, which has the advantage of making the residency change paperwork much easier and I am close to everything. Lifestyle changes not at all. It's a small neighborhood. It has the disadvantage that as Makuhari is a dense but suburban area, fairly affluent and up and coming, houses are likely to be small, two-story, and be yardless, and style pretty much can't be a factor.

The Pacific Chiba coast (Chibafornia, as we call it). Disadvantage is that Chibafornia requires more residency change paperwork, and will be in more rural areas. No more 5 minute drives to Costco or walking down the street to the post office, salon, grocery store, or tax office. These seaside communities are more Northern California than Southern California. Advantage is American sized lots, yards, single story houses, and proximity to very nice beaches. All for a price a tenth of what it would cost you in California.

Here's the house I am currently seriously looking at, though it may not last on the market as long I would need it to. Pretty decent Mid-Century Modern vibes (though it was built in the 1980s). And you can see the proximity to the beach (7 minute drive). Next to a golf course and between two parks! But compared to US prices, it's dirt cheap, because in Japan houses are not investments, they depreciate like cars.

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Three bedroom house, thinking master on the front side, guest across from the veranda, and the tiki room in the far back corner.

Awesome update, it’s nice that some of your plants are doing well I hope that the heat gets better and that not too many people suffer from it. The larger house seems nice as long as you can tolerate less conveniences like you mentioned. Sorry for my ignorance but is the beach you might be close to one that people swim at or is it more to look at? Either way it looks beautiful, take care!

It's more to look at I think, for most people, but you can get down there, there's a pathway down you can see on the far right side.

The really popular beach is about 10 minutes south, called Onjuku. I'm more of a secluded beach person (it feels more faraway tropical island and less like one of the most populous prefectures in the world's third largest economy):

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[ Edited by SouthSeasKat on 2022-08-04 13:41:57 ]

Fingers crossed you get the house you want. It's hard for me to wrap my head around the idea of houses depreciating--property values in Central Texas have climbed at insane rates over the past two years. If we hadn't lucked into our current home back in '14 there's no way we could afford anything close to it now. Heck, The Wife and I have discussed how we'd likely have never discovered tiki if we hadn't ended up in that house!

Easy beach access is a big plus. Wherever you end up, you'll be able to let your tiki inclinations spill out of the house into the yard. Palms and hibiscus go a long way toward creating that immersive experience.

As you recall from Instagram, my father's passing meant I went back to Texas for the funeral and to help my mother with the arrangements and the estate. This included our North Texas DFW burbs house. We sold it on June 30th for $490K. We only paid $130K when I was a teenager. Even accounting for almost 30 years of inflation, that's pretty significant, and my father left other assets. This in part allows the house purchase here in Japan, with no mortgage.

Chiba coast is Zone 9B, which I think is similar to Houston. And I've been watching a lot of Paul Plantu's YouTube videos, as he is building a tropical (looking) forest in his backyard using native local and subtropical plants which are able to survive in the winter even if they die back. We have a lot of Palms in Chiba, as you know, and the local variety survives just fine through our relatively mild (but still snowy) winters.

Houston is, for the most part, in USDA Zone 9a--as is most of the Texas coast. If you're talking 9b, you're all the way down into the Rio Grande Valley where the Texas citrus industry is located. I'm in zone 8b, which already gives me significant options with semi-tropicals that can survive at least light freezes. I'd say you have a lot more flexibility. Certainly citrus is something to look into--Persian limes and white grapefruit, if you can get them, would be excellent to plant if you're into fresh juice for cocktails. P. edulis would give you fresh passion fruit and spectacular flowers. Bananas should do well. It just depends how deep you want to dive into landscaping.

The neighbor has a citrus tree that puts out a lot of fruit each year, so much so I just grab a few as some of the branches come over onto the front porch, so I can confirm citrus definitely survives here. I know of two homes in the area that have what I think are bananas, given the leaves.

I've also been trying to grow some taro from tiny little green buds, but they are still very small and growing slowly, and I can't imagine planting them outside until they are much bigger. I started with seven though, so they don't seem that easy to grow and keep alive outside of an established plant putting off corms from the mother plant already established.

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