Novelist’s house in Kyoto to be demolished

The former Kyoto residence of novelist Naoya Shiga (1883-1971) is in its final preparations for demolition and sale. The 100+ year old home is 1.5 kilometers south of Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion).

It was said that Shiga moved house about 28 times in his lifetime, often writing stories set in the places he had lived. The house in Kyoto was the setting of his novel A Dark Night’s Passing.

The neighborhood was once farmland in the outer suburbs of Kyoto. In the late Meiji era it was largely redeveloped into housing blocks and called Kinugasa-en. The house was built in 1910 as a suburban-type residence and became Shiga’s home for just four months in 1915. After he left Kyoto, the house was put up for rent. A tenant who had moved into the home in the 1930s ending up purchasing it after WWII. The owner’s son continued living in the home until his passing last year. The heir had searched for various ways to preserve the historic family home but was unable to find a solution. They have decided to demolish the home next month.

Kyoto’s suburban-type residences began to pop up around Kitashirakawa, Okazaki, Shimogamo, and Kinugasa from the end of the Meiji era onwards. Homes of this design became very popular with the intelligentsia of the time. Homes that were once rented to famous authors and artists hold great importance yet are increasingly being demolished and sold off to developers.  

How you can help

Sometimes historic and culturally valuable homes like this are available for purchase. They usually come with a high price tag due to the relatively large and valuable land they sit on, and can require repairs and upgrades at the buyer’s expense. If you are interested in preserving a piece of Japan’s history, please let us know. Homes of this calibre are often not advertised publicly, with information only provided to selected clients on a need-to-know basis.


Kitanonishihakubaicho, Kita-ku, Kyoto

Source: The Kyoto Shimbun, August 14, 2019.

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