Kyoto Nijo Castle Machiya Project – Part 2


Follow our journey as we renovate a traditional machiya townhouse in Kyoto. Once complete, the renovated machiya will be offered for sale.

Shortly after the purchase of the home, we received brochures from Kyoto City and the Kyoto Center for Community Collaboration. The Kyoto City pamphlet is sent to new owners to inform them of a new rule from May 2018 that requires the city to be notified in advance of any planned demolition of machiya. Owners of properties in designated districts and those considered valuable to the scenic landscape will need to give the city one year’s advance notice before demolition or face a penalty.

There are several non-profits and local government departments that provide various support options, including financial assistance, to owners of historic machiya homes in Kyoto.


This center is operated by the Kyoto City Housing Supply Public Corporation and offers financial support for drawing up plans and carrying out earthquake retrofitting work. In 2017 it only provided support for planning and design costs, but in 2018 the support was expanded to cover the actual retrofitting work as well. The current scheme is in effect until March 31, 2019.

This applies to wood-frame homes (conventional post and beam or two-by-four) built before May 31, 1981, or 1~2 storey kyo-machiya built to the traditional method of construction before November 22, 1950.

Up to 80% of the cost of planning and retrofitting work may be covered, up to a maximum of 1 million Yen for wood-frame or 1.2 million Yen for a kyo-machiya residence. A property designated as a Structure of Landscape Importance may be eligible for an additional 400,000 ~ 600,000 Yen in aid.

If the reinforcing results in a high grade of structural strength, there may be additional perks to the owner including deductions on income tax (up to 200,000 Yen) and annual fixed-asset property taxes (up to a 50% reduction).

The city also offers financial assistance for renovations and repairs, covering up to 90% of the cost of certain repairs for a maximum of 600,000 Yen per house. For installing a light-weight roof, for example, up to 200,000 Yen may be provided, while up to 400,000 Yen may be provided for the repair and restoration of mud walls.



This Center offers consultation services and seminars for people looking to renovate kyo-machiya. The Center created the Kyo-machiya Karte (京町家カルテ) certification system as a way of helping owners recognise the significance of and continue the preservation of traditional townhouses. 

The owner of a kyo-machiya can pay 5,000 Yen to apply for the certification. The Kyo-machiya Karte Committee will then conduct a site inspection and provide a written report about the house and its traditional features. If the certificate is granted, the owner pays an additional 30,000 Yen. The process takes 2 ~ 3 months. The certificate can then be used for special home loan programs offered by participating local banks, as well as the community development fund support explained below.

For a machiya to qualify, it must be built before 1950, with the traditional layout and garden remaining, and without any considerable changes to the structure.

The Center also offers a Kyo-machiya Profile, which is a simpler version of the Karte certificate. It requires the property to have not had any significant alterations, and to retain or have once had traditional exterior elements of a machiya. It also involves a site visit, with an exterior inspection only. The property owner can pay a 5,000 Yen application fee and, if approved, pay 10,000 Yen for the Profile to be issued.

Both the Karte and Profile certificates may be used to obtain special discounts on interest rates on home loans offered by the Bank of Kyoto, Kyoto Shinkin Bank and Kyoto Chuo Shinkin Bank. This is important because a typical bank policy is not to lend on older properties for home buyers.



This is also an initiative by the Kyoto Center for Community Collaboration. Donations to the fund go towards the protection and promotion of Kyoto’s machiya. Owners looking to restore and renovate machiya can submit their proposal to the fund, with successful applicants receiving a grant for exterior restorations of up to half of the construction cost (not exceeding 5 million Yen).


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