Expedia Inc's vacation rental service subsidiary HomeAway and Rakuten Lifull Stay Inc will team up to provide old Japanese-style houses for vacation rentals.
The two companies will cooperate with the Japan Kominka Association, a nationwide organization for the preservation of traditional houses known as kominka, to renovate and certify such homes for lodging use.
The tie-up comes as a new law is set to take effect on June 15 allowing private homes across the country to be offered for accommodation without hotel business licenses. Such private lodging services had only been allowed in specially deregulated zones.
Japan is encouraging property owners to rent out their homes to tourists in the face of a shortage of accommodation amid a surge in inbound tourists in recent years.
The number of visitors to Japan hit a record of over 28 million in 2017. The government has set a goal of 40 million in 2020, when the country will host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The Japan Kominka Association will solicit investors to help finance the renovation of old houses by becoming joint owners.
According to a recent survey by the association, at least half of the 1.28 million old Japanese homes still remaining in the country could be converted into vacation rentals even though many of them would need renovation work.