House Building in Okinawa – Construction

It all began with an empty land lot that I fell in love with the moment I was standing on it. Today, I’d like to share the entire process of purchasing land & starting construction for our home in Okinawa, Japan.

If you are new around here, and you found this blog post because you might be considering building a house in Okinawa as a foreigner, head over to the very first post What To Expect When Building in Okinawa, where I share important details about building in Okinawa.

The Lot

Our journey began with the quest for the perfect piece of land. While Okinawa’s breathtaking landscapes and serene vistas are renowned, finding the ideal plot felt like the most daunting aspect of our Okinawa home adventure. Yet, fortune smiled upon us when a friend mentioned a piece of land available. Visiting it the same day, the tranquil surroundings, ocean view, and the allure of a tranquil lifestyle sealed our decision to build our dream home right there.

Securing the land posed the next challenge. As foreigners, delving into Japan’s real estate procedures can be scary. Fortunately, the land was already owned by our construction company, bypassing the need for a prolonged land purchase or bidding process, which can stretch up to three+ months. With a downpayment and some paperwork, we were ready to embark on our construction journey. With the aid of a proficient agent fluent in English, we seamlessly navigated negotiations and legalities, making the process much smoother.

Building in Okinawa – Construction [Full Guide]

Building a home in Okinawa requires adhering to strict regulations and obtaining various permits and approvals from local authorities. From zoning permits to construction permits, each step of the process was executed to ensure compliance with local laws and regulations.

As we delved into the process of crafting our dream home, meticulous attention to detail was paramount. Through several meetings and discussions with our construction team, we painstakingly refined every aspect of the layout and room setup. It wasn’t until a few months into the process that we finally saw our vision materialize into a concrete plan.

As the plans began to take shape under the guidance of the in-house architect, I took it upon myself to ensure every detail aligned with our lifestyle.

Armed with measurements of our existing furniture, I hand-drew each piece to the plans, scrutinizing every layout to ensure functionality and harmony in our future home.

This hands-on approach allowed us to envision ourselves living in the space and make necessary adjustments to tailor it to our needs and preferences.

Amidst the excitement of commencing construction, we encountered an unexpected roadblock: the onset of the COVID-19 lockdown. This unforeseen challenge disrupted our timeline, causing a delay of several months in the build process. Despite initially estimating a nine-month construction period, the eventual completion stretched to 13 months in total.

Groundbreaking Ceremony

In Japan, the groundbreaking ceremony, known as “Jichinsai” or “Jichinsai no Gi,” holds significant cultural and spiritual importance. It symbolizes respect for nature and seeks blessings for the construction project, ensuring safety, harmony, and prosperity.

During the ceremony, a Shinto priest performs rituals to purify the land and offer prayers to the gods. Participants gather at the construction site, where offerings such as rice, sake, and salt are placed on a makeshift altar. The priest then recites prayers, offers blessings, and performs symbolic acts like planting a sacred tree or scattering salt around the site to ward off evil spirits and ensure good fortune.

The ceremony fosters a sense of community and unity among participants, including the construction team, developers, and local residents. It serves as a solemn occasion to express gratitude to the land and seek divine protection for the project’s success and the well-being of all involved.

Beginning of Construction

I found myself in a unique position to witness the process firsthand. With my children’s school conveniently close to the construction site, I made it a daily ritual to drop them off and then swing by to check on the progress. It was an exhilarating experience to watch our vision take shape, especially considering it was our first home build, and in a foreign country, no less.

Despite the challenges posed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this period became a beacon of excitement and hope amidst the chaos. Each day brought new developments, from the initial excavation work to the installation of the retaining wall and the formation of what would later become Sanbe Beauty’s Lab.

Basement & Foundation + Retaining wall

Navigating Rainy Season: Challenges in Okinawa Construction

As construction commenced on our Okinawa home, we found ourselves battling with the impending rainy season characteristic of the region. With an average of 38-58 rainy days spanning from early May to late June, the weather posed a significant challenge to our progress.

The onset of rainy days challenged us, causing temporary halts in construction activities. However, our team was put to the test when one of the sidewalls collapsed due to faulty neighboring road construction. This setback demanded immediate attention, as everyone worked tirelessly to reinforce the sidewall and prevent further disruptions.

Rain or Shine: Progress Amidst Okinawa’s Weather

Amidst the rain-soaked days of construction, our foundation and basement took shape seamlessly, a testament to our dedicated team’s resilience. Despite the deluge, progress marched forward daily, showcasing the unwavering commitment of our construction crew.

Throughout this journey, one thing became abundantly clear: the industrious spirit of Japanese workers. Even on scorching days, their dedication never wavered. In a small gesture of appreciation, I made it a point to offer refreshing cold coffee and green tea during their breaks, a token of gratitude for their hard work and perseverance.

Summer Sizzle: Building Under the Okinawan Sun

As the basement and first floor took form, the scorching Okinawan summer descended upon us with relentless heat, reaching a sweltering 30-40ºC. With little respite from the blazing sun until lunchtime, the construction site became an oven.

Amidst the heat, doubts crept in about the size of each room. Would the first-floor office suffice for my workspace? As I gazed upon it, uncertainty lingered. Yet, despite my reservations, I eventually settled into the office for a year and a half before we expanded with the addition of the Sanbe Beauty Lab —a tale I’ll unveil in the coming months on the blog.

Bringing Dreams to Life: Raising the Wooden Walls

As the construction team prepared to raise the wooden walls for the first floor, each day brought remarkable progress. Memories of a childhood home built in a similar fashion flooded back, filling me with nostalgia and gratitude for the opportunity to create something equally special on this enchanting island.

With the wooden walls standing tall, ready to mold the concrete and shape our home, excitement surged through us. It was the moment when our vision began to materialize, transforming mere plans into tangible reality.

A New Perspective: Exploring the Second Floor

With the addition of the second floor, our agent extended a gracious invitation to step inside and take a closer look. Stepping into the house, a wave of enchantment washed over us. The space felt ingrained with magic, sparking visions of the life we would soon call our own.

But it was when we caught sight of the view that emotions truly stirred within. It was a moment of pure connection, a glimpse into the breathtaking landscape that would soon become an integral part of our daily lives. To see why this view held such significance, head over to our Instagram @oheverythinghandmade and witness the beauty for yourself.


If you’re considering building a home in Okinawa as a foreigner, know that you’re not alone. With careful planning, thorough research, and the right support system in place, you too can turn your dream of homeownership in Okinawa into a reality. Stay tuned for more updates on our journey (Coming soon – Our Interior and Exterior Home Journey), and feel free to reach out if you have any questions or need guidance along the way.

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