chapter  4
65 Pages

The revival of the kyô-machiya

The landmark disputes in Kyoto mobilise a great deal of social energy but overall in this regard they are clearly overshadowed by another part of the urban scenery. These are the traditional town houses of Kyoto, the kyômachiya. Hundreds, probably thousands, of them have been revitalised for a great variety of commercial purposes and also residential use. Social activities of all kinds centre on the machiya, and there are throngs of fans and supporters, whereas a sworn enemy is nowhere in sight. No other theme in contemporary Kyoto attracts public attention as easily, and the movement also is more stable and continuous than those provoked by the keikan ronsô. Just like the manshon rush, the machiya renaissance also has a considerable impact on the townscape. Such prominence is surprising as, only two decades ago, these old houses were widely regarded as little more than an economic liability.