Jaya Thursfield

Nationality: Australian
Time Living in Japan: About 6 years (Since 2017)
Employer(s): Self-employed
Current Job Title: Content Creator
Area(s) of Expertise: Akiya (abandoned or vacant houses), Kominka (traditional houses), Rural Development, Video Production
Education: MSc Development Management, London School of Economics & Political Science / Bachelor of Arts/Commerce, Monash University
Languages: English, Japanese, Spanish, and Indonesian

Jaya was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, to Indonesian and English parents, and, after living and working in various countries including South Korea, Bougainville, Ecuador, and the UK, he now calls Ibaraki home. There, he and his wife bought an abandoned house, documenting the process of purchasing and renovating it on his YouTube channel, Tokyo Llama. In the UK he founded and ran a company and online store that imported artisanal products from developing countries, and has a strong interest in crafts, particularly woodworking and pottery.
When searching for an abandoned house to renovate, Jaya had an eye out for a larger plot of land, one that would allow his boys enough room to play outside. He was successful in finding the perfect location and renovating the ideal home for his family and kids. He loves coaching and watching his twins play sports and ironically, the camcorder he bought to record their soccer games was the camera that started his youtube fame. While preparing to renovate his house, Jaya noticed the lack of Youtube videos for Akiya in Japan, particularly in English. Now, his account Tokyo Llama has filled this space with over 200 thousand subscribers and features multiple renovation videos with over three million views.

Favorite Thing About Living in Japan: The balanced lifestyle from convenience and safety, to the cost of living, and also enjoys rural life in Japan.

Favorite Place to Visit in Japan: Shikoku is one favorite, with a variety of coastal towns to mountains, nice food, and traditional houses.

What he has noticed has changed throughout his time living in Japan: The increase of remote jobs as a result of COVID-19 has opened up opportunities to buy places in the country now that commuting can be avoided more frequently.

Favorite Place to Visit Outside Japan: Loves to travel to Indonesia for delicious food and to explore the markets. He also enjoys visiting countries in South America such as Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia.

What has kept you in Japan: Settling into a home and living closer to family as well as continuously finding new projects to work on in his home.