Kyoto non-profit group puts up chocolates for trade and eventually snag a house

A non-profit organisation in Japan's Kyoto city has successfully bartered chocolate for a house.
A non-profit organisation in Japan's Kyoto city has successfully bartered chocolate for a house.PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM ASAHI SHIMBUN

In storybook fashion, a non-profit organisation in Japan's Kyoto city has, after a series of trades, successfully bartered chocolate for a house.

The non-profit group, in Kyoto's Ukyo Ward, started a bartering programme four years ago in its free quarterly community magazine, Japanese newspaper The Asahi Shimbun reported on Monday (Dec 12).

The initial offering was a set of limited edition chocolates, shaped like cars.

The chocolates were traded for a handmade board game, which was in turn exchanged for a picture book.

After going through a series of trades, the non-profit group, which calls itself Kosodate wa Oyasodate Minorino Mori Gekijo (which translates as "Raising a child is like raising a parent: Theater for fruitful forest"), wound up with a table mat.

For this, it was offered a house. Granted the building is dilapidated, more than 100 years old, and in need of repair.

The trade, which took place in March, took the group members by surprise.

"We never expected to end up with a house, like in the tale," group representative Chika Izuta told The Asahi Shimbun.

The tale he is referring to is a Japanese folk tale, Warashibe Choja or Straw Millionaire, which describes how a peasant with just a piece of straw becomes rich after a series of trades.

The house, which previously belonged to Ms Rika Tominaga, 52, is in the mountainous Keihoku region.

Ms Tominaga had decided to sell the house after failing to rent it out for more than 10 years.

"The house's interior is dilapidated," she told The Asahi Shimbun. "Since I cannot manage the house, I would like the house to be used for the community."

The group plans to use the house to work with local residents and help revitalise the neighbourhood.

In November, Kyoto's government pledged to subsidise renovations for the house.