Kyoto introduces new regulation for owners looking to demolish traditional machiya

Kyoto City officials have voted in favor of a rule that will require owners of Kyoto’s traditional machiya townhouses to provide advance notice to the city prior to demolition. However, options to help reduce the burden of maintaining a historic home remain extremely limited. Without the support and participation from the local community this new rule may have only a minor effect.

Kyoto’s proposed short-term letting rules to be strictest in country

On November 30 Kyoto City announced their proposed regulations for Airbnb-style short-term rentals. To provide support for complaints and emergency situations, hosts may be required to have a full-time manager stationed in an office within an 800 meter radius of the property. Hosts may also be required to submit a written oath to the city stating that they have not been operating an unlicensed BnB within the past 3 months.

These regulations will over-ride the new nationwide law set to go into effect from June 2018 that will allow overnight stays in non-hotels for up to 180 nights per year.

Kyoto’s most expensive rental apartments to open in 2018

Kyoto’s most expensive rental apartment building is scheduled open in May 2018. The 5-storey La Tour Kyoto Higashiyama residence is being developed by Sumitomo Realty in the Higashiyama ward. It will be part of Sumitomo’s ‘La Tour’ brand of high-end rental apartments. The developer currently operates 20 La Tour buildings in central Tokyo, but this will be their first one outside of the capital.

Lingerie company to start Kyoto machiya accommodation business

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).

2.2 Traditional machiya houses in Kyoto are demolished each day

Two renovated machiya by Kazuya Morita Architecture Studio.

Kyoto City is losing its traditional machiya townhouses at an alarming rate, with an average of 2.2 of these symbolic houses demolished each day.

On May 1, Kyoto City announced that approximately 5,600 machiya have been demolished over the past seven years. In 2016, a survey found that there were 40,146 surviving machiya in the city.

Of the surviving machiya, 14.5% are vacant and not occupied by owners or tenants, an increase of 4 points from the previous city survey in 2009. Kyoto City’s vacancy rate across all types of housing was 14% in a 2013 survey.

First heritage de-listing for Kyoto City as 90-yr old bookstore is about to be demolished

Demolition of the 90-year old Heirakuji Bookstore in downtown Kyoto will begin this month as the owner can no longer afford to maintain the aging building.

The building was registered as a National Tangible Cultural Property in 1998. The heritage listing will be removed due to the demolition of the structure. This is the first time a national heritage listing has been removed from a property in Kyoto City and the second time for Kyoto Prefecture.

For Sale: Heritage-listed modernist house in Kyoto, c1929

Price: 200,242,000 Yen
(approx. 1.8 million USD)

A historic modernist house located across from the Biwa Canal in Kyoto is for sale. The house was designed by architect Seigo Motono (1882-1944) and completed in 1929.

This was originally built as the home of Tsuruichi Tsurumaki (1873-1942), the headmaster of what is now the Kyoto Institute of Technology. The 3-storey house was built with concrete blocks in the Nakamura Reinforced Concrete style which was made popular by Mamoru Nakamura in the 1920s. Between 1921 and 1933, 119 buildings of this style were built across Japan.

Kyoto hotel industry boosted by foreign tourists

Hotel revenues and occupancy rates in Kyoto are rising thanks to the recent boom in foreign tourist numbers. Even the typical off-season months in winter and summer are now seeing strong demand for accommodation.

According to the Kyoto Convention Bureau, a survey of 34 hotels catering to foreign tourists found that the hotel occupancy rate in January 2017, which is off-season, was 75.7%. This is an increase of 4.3 points from 2016 and the highest rate seen for the month of January in the past four years. Kyoto Hotel Okura had an occupancy rate of 89.0% in 2016, up 7 points from 2015.

Demolition of philosopher’s home in Kyoto starts this week

Kitaro Nishida Kyoto House 1

Demolition of the former home of philosopher Kitaro Nishida (1870-1945) started earlier this week. Nishida, founder of the Kyoto School of philosophy, rented the traditional Japanese house from 1912 ~ 1922. It is 500 meters north-west of Kyoto University, where he was a professor.

The 2-storey, wooden house was built in the later part of the Meiji era (1868-1912) as a rental property, with the landlord living nearby. The deteriorated condition of the 100+ year-old house was cited as the reason for demolition. It is expected that it will be replaced with apartments.