Live,Work, Study and Gather.
Machiya means, house for townspeople. And still is.
As we live and work everyday, house became place to live itsself with style.
Machiya is originally house for People who is producing, creating things.
People, family lived in Machiya and worked and live and Front side, there is Misenoma (space for shop)
originally, you can work and show the products.
Why? Shop in the house? or Shop attached to the house? because Kyoto had products branded as Kyoto products, so old time, people are facsinated about those made in Kyoto products, which is still strong brand when it is stamped
Shop or I can call it also showroom.
You sometimes see showcase infront of machiya house, there you find kimono or bamobo products which is made by
The building of Machiya,structure is wooden structure, and Characteristic point from exterior view is Kawarayane, Oodo, Degoushi, Soil wall,and so on.
Koushi has strong Character from outsitde, which defines its beauty. When Machiya is newly built in the city, you can see how fresh material color it was!
When you walk in community in Kyoto, you can see how dence it is. It is easy to find where you are in the city in Kyoto because urban planning from Heian period, is there, as Grid.
Compare to European city, Community is defined by the street (Cho), Kyoto people helped eachother to make rules and organize the event for kids. I would say this is very small community compare to Europe one, and also the member of community is made of Multi generations from Kids to Senior.
Cho is written in Chinese charactor 町. Most of the Cho has Ojizou san, we call it small god for kids and community.
Every year, Community makes Jizoubon (summer festival) for kids, and Sports festival was big event to join in the near elementary school. Every cho (community) made teams and compete against through Autum sports.
There you have Udon, Sweets, Yakisoba all those small tent shop is prepared by community.
Why it was so important to strength power of community? Why we need to know face to face?
This is simply because we have history that wooden architecture often had fire, then first we community has to
help each other. Also as you can still see on the street name, the similar business were gathered, for example, in Muromachi street, this was famous for selling Kimono, and Nishijin was famous for producing its textiles which is famous for
So each shop house ( I imagine this words while I am in Europe) , it was innemitable to know each other.
Every machiya comrade had to know each other’s families who does business.
This relationship can also be seen in lattices. A draft flows through, and beautiful light leaks out from the bright sky at night.
It seems that you can hear the family’s joy, celebration and everyday activity.
Neighbors didn’t complain even if families with children made a little noise.
It is the behavior and concern of the people that have preserved the generous Kyoto.
Why did townhouses with translucent façades develop in densely populated cities? The building faces east and west and is designed as a summer building.
The dimensions of the building are determined according to the division of the city, and the unit of space is used.
The unit of 1 ken actually means 1.8M, So when people walk, one can guess, 2ken or 3ken. Old time tax were caliculated by the length of facade.
Both sides are covered by the wall, or sharing the wall, so Machiya in Kyoto developped with the Tsuboniwa, innner garden. I think having garden in side the house is really luxuary now a days, but with the size of the small, still possible to
archive. This is private garden often you can see from inside room. Tuboniwa often has stone lantern or the basin with water this is all element you can find in old houses.
Having Tsuboniwa is not only to praise the eyes but also it is idea to enjoy the seasons.
In Europe, people often go out when its sunny and sitting outside of cafe. In Kyoto, either you sit in the house with garden which is really nice, or going to Yuka (Balcony next to Kamoriver) to enjoy the view, sound of river and excellent food.
Or when you have Shogi, infront of your house, this is giving little benches towards to the street.
We call small and narrow street as Roji or Rouji, people can sit or stand infront of the house and talk while you poor the water to your green.
Such a vivid city life made of small unit of community is creating the city of Kyoto. People call themselves,
I am from Nakagyoku, or Shimogyoku. and Always talk about what area? Back side of this catsle or temples.
Kyoto has strong character for Street name, we have songs of street, and I had to remmeber when I was child.
Even now, This Chonai, community is strong to enhance skill of how to prevent fire, criminal, disaster
so it is rather safe to live in Kyoto. When you are away to travel, your community member will say
oh welcome back! long time no see, while we have always small chat about what to cook tonight,
or where you are going.
I live now in Frankfurt, Germany. It was difficult to get to know people in beggining, while there is so many new apartment and we do not have community in the apartment. This is also in phanomenon in big city, or develpping city that
concrete wall divided people and house became just nest of sleeping and resting, eating.
In Germany, many house has Balcony, this is interesting parts, that people count it.
When you seek housing, people say How many Balcony? you want, Terrace?
This is the place where you can get sun, and relaxed privatery but also some neighboor would speak to you
if its close.
During and After the Colvid 19 was the chance to think about where you want to live, and how you want to live.
When your kids are small, all activity is strongly depending on House. If you live small house, it is very
stressful to deal with anything. I feel that rich environment Kyoto gave the many touch point to the culture,
nature, art. We family could go by foot to city, museum, nice river side so easily.
Frankfurt has Street tram, this is things I missed in Kyoto. It would have bee very nice to have Tram on the street
it is Universal design with Tourism, daily life are carried easily with baby, and kids.
Also from now on, Tourism will be back both from inside the Japan, and outside of Japan.
Kyoto is now less and less wooden Machiya house, and less kids. That is why, Kyoto needs to find way to rebrand
with Family, Kids, Senior, Multigeneration community. and also Work style with bringing nature inside house,
or using softly connnecting to the outside.
It is not the solution to build only hotels in Kyoto. It is solution that such a internatioal city can be recognized as
Second hometown from all over the world, while it is very nice to live with good contacts to people.
Small shops, Excellent food are there while you walk.
or several people can also buy one house together to invest for summer house in Kyoto.
Now a days, new technology company, new industry company is coming to Kyoyto, and also staff are living.
This is excellent opportunity for foreign guest, Work and Live in Kyoto.
I am happy to suppport and help the realestate, home, buildings needs in Kyoto. or Travelling several times in a year, we can also meet in Kyoto. We can talk in European time not to think about time differneces!
text by Nazuki Millotat-Konishi
photo by UnsplashのSeiが撮影した写真