The owner of a 280-year old Inn in Muko City, Kyoto, has made an inevitable but unfortunate decision to demolish the historic property as maintenance becomes too costly.
Tominagaya first opened in this location in 1616. It was a hatago type of inn. These lodgings were common during the Edo period, located alongside post towns fronting the national highways to provide accommodation and meals to travelers. With the advent of rail in the late 19th century, the old walking routes were suddenly less prosperous. Many hatago inns closed down or relocated to districts around train stations. During the Edo period, nightly room rates of hatago were typically around 200 ~ 300 mon (approximately 3,000 ~ 5,000 Yen in today’s money).
Although most hatago guests were samurai and ordinary folk, Tominagaya boasted some impressive visitors over its history, including Ino Tadataka (1745-1818), a surveyor who spent 17 years completing the first map of Japan using modern surveying techniques. Prince Tokugawa Yoshinobu (1837-1913), the last shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate, was also a past guest.
The current machiya-style building dates from 1735. It fronts onto the Saigoku-kaido Highway, one of the former Edo-period highways. This highway connected Kyoto to Shimonoseki in Yamaguchi Prefecture. The owner initially decided to demolish it about 10 years ago, but a local group convinced the then-72 year old to allow it to be opened to the public. In recent years, however, the structure has deteriorated rapidly, suffering further damage from a typhoon in 2018. Repair and restoration costs are not affordable for the ageing owner, who has decided to have it demolished this summer. It will be replaced with rental housing.
The Kyoto Shimbun, April 6, 2019.
Black & White image via Muko-machi Tominagaya Facebook Page