In a follow up to the Japan Society’s November 2008 program, the Machiya Preservation Project, I had the opportunity to join our preservationist friends in Kyoto on April 15 who were hosting a visit by staff of the World Monuments Fund.
As part of their efforts to preserve as many Machiya as possible before too many more are demolished, they have undertaken an heroic effort to catalogue the remaining Machiya. So far, about 25,000 remaining structures have been identified, but they believe there could be as many as 50,000 in all. Unfortunately, these structures are regularly destroyed.
After introductions to staff of the American Express Foundation and the World Monuments Fund in November 2008, they have been working hard to get the Machiya on the World Monument Fund’s Watch List.
They have also applied for assistance to refurbish a community owned Machiya in the heart of Kyoto that would serve as a community center where they can educate Japanese about the Machiya, especially students, and the international community.
Not only do they want to preserve the structures, but they hope to preserve the traditional lifestyle that is part of the Machiya and Kyoto’s cultural heritage.
The coming months are critical as they await the decision of the WMF. We are hopeful for a positive outcome as we anxiously wait with them. (Betty)