On May 30, Japanese lingerie company Wacoal Holdings announced that they will be starting an accommodation business that will feature Kyoto’s traditional machiya residences.
From early 2018 onwards, the company plans to renovate old machiya into hotel-like guesthouses targeting tourists, with two or three machiya to open next year. Their goal is to manage 50 machiya over the next five years with a total annual revenue of over 1 billion Yen (approx. 9 million USD).
Instead of buying the machiya and old kominka houses, they will rent them from their owners. Exteriors will be restored to retain their original characteristics, while the interiors will be redesigned with a blend of traditional Japanese style and contemporary artistic touches. Part of the proceeds from the accommodation revenues will be provided to the property owners as rent.
Kyoto City’s traditional merchant houses have been suffering from high vacancy rates as the elderly owners struggle to maintain the aging buildings. As many as 2.2 of these buildings are demolished each day. The city welcomed 56.84 million tourists in 2015, of which 3.16 million were foreigners, and are aiming to have 4.4 million annual foreign tourists by 2020. Hotel accommodation, however, is short in supply.
The Asahi Shimbun, June 1, 2017.
The Nikkei Shimbun, May 30, 2017.