Kyoto’s machiya revival

The traditional wooden merchant houses (machiya) lining the streets in Kyoto are a defining part of the historic city’s atmosphere. Yet, over 5,000 of these machiya are vacant, and approximately 2% of them are demolished each year.

Some of these homes are being converted into guesthouses and have been very popular with foreign visitors.

Kyoto Machiya Inn

In Kamigyo ward, a 100 year old shophouse was converted into a guesthouse last year. The lodgings are operated by Machiya-inn Co., Ltd., which manages 17 different machiya in Kyoto and offers English-speaking support. Rates will vary depending on the season, but an entire machiya can be rented from 27,000 Yen per night for two guests, and can be more economical for group stays.

Iori Machiya

Iori Machiya Stay, established in 2013, currently manage 11 restored machiya in Kyoto. The machiya can accommodate between 2 and 10 guests. Modern comforts such as floor heating, wifi, air-conditioning and new bathrooms have been added. They also offer food delivery services so guests can have traditional Japanese meals delivered to the homes.

Kyoto machiya renovations

Hachise Co. is a long-established real estate company in Kyoto. They recently started offering English-support for foreigners wanted to buy renovated and un-renovated machiya in Kyoto, and also offer management and maintenance services for the properties they renovate. They offer rental management for long-term tenants only. They also offer monthly management of vacant properties while the owners are away, including light cleaning and mail collection. They have machiya for sale ranging from 13 ~ 120 million Yen.

Owners who wish to rent out a machiya to guests on an overnight basis must obtain a license under the Inns and Hotels Act. Some of the requirements for licensing include:

  • A certificate showing the building complies with fire safety laws.
  • Changing the use of the property from residential to accommodation-type, but only if the total floor area devoted to accommodation is over 100 sqm.

For details on licensing, please contact your local city office.

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