Monday, August 17, 2009

machiya stay

these are all pictures of restored machiya via the iori project site. the iori project in kyoto preserves traditional machiya by restoring and renting them to visitors or transforming them into art galleries and tea houses. read the concept behind the project here.

this site goes into more detail about what are machiya, their history and recent regeneration in kyoto.
the iori official site
alex kerr's personal site (alex kerr has a very long history in kyoto and japan, and is the author of lost japan)
chiiori site (alex kerr's traditional farmhouse restoration project in the remote iya valley- an amazing story and an equally amazing place to experience if you are ever in japan. the story of finding and restoring chiiori is mentioned in lost japan)

one of the most distressing things about living in kyoto was watching many residences in the traditional machiya neighbourhoods disappearing, to be replaced with concrete parking lots. but now machiya are back: some in their original slightly worn state and being lived in or used by kyoto locals (my favourite), some adapted into modern street scapes with multi-coloured awnings and additions, some fully restored to living houses in a traditional manner, and some restored with a modernist eye. they are cafes, they are artist-run spaces, they are offices and, as they have always been, they are shopfronts.

the iori machiya is a hugely commendable project and would be a nice place to stay if budget is no hindrance. for cheaper alternatives and a charmingly boroboro (slightly rundown) experience of a machiya, there are many machiya guesthouses emerging in kyoto. here are some i found (i have not stayed at any of these though, so i cant recommend from personal experience, though they all look ok):

uronza (very good review here by a very thorough travel blogger)


  1. i love how much research, though and care go into your posts. seems like such a great and worthy project :-)

  2. I can almost smell the tatami!

  3. To me, this is pure beauty, pure relaxation and the ultimate dream space.

  4. If I were living in Kyoto, I'd definately want to live in machiya!! I love how the lights come through and what you see from the windows, all so beautiful and artistic!

  5. Oooooh, oooh and ooooooooh! Nothing more beautiful than machiya :)

  6. hi everyone, it is nice to see so much machiya love in your comments. they are so deeply embedded in the version of japan i love. (you could almost say they form the architecture of my love of japan:)

  7. I love machiya too. and have seen Alex Kerr's documentary. What a great project.

    I love the idea of going back to basics and treasure what we already have. especially when those things are beautiful like machiya.
    It is more ecological than building an eco house, using new materials(although a bit of fixing up is good idea so not too much energy is going to be used...)

    Great post!

  8. hi momo! i have not seen the documentary! another one to chase up:) beautifully put - treasuring what we already have

  9. Wow, these are beautiful. Despite having been in Kyoto I've never been in one nor heard of them. So informative, and timely too. I hope more of them can be saved. I wonder what makes them so damp? Cold in winter and hot in summer I could manage, but damp... (that's all we in Vancouver think about). Thanks for this!