Kyoto to rent out old Meiji Era town house

Kyodo

The Kyoto Municipal Government has announced that a traditional wooden “kyo-machiya” town house in the Gion Shinbashi area — a traditional teahouse in the city’s entertainment district — will be made available to private-sector business operators to rent.

The municipal government said the building, which adds charm to this traditional city, will be available for ¥500,000 a month, or half the market price.

The Gion Shinbashi area is a traditional neighborhood that stretches along the cherry tree-lined Shirakawa River and is home to “geiko” (geisha) and “maiko” (apprentice geisha), who are often seen walking along the area’s stone-paved paths.

The area has been registered as an important national cultural asset.

The town house is a two-story wooden building located in Higashiyama Ward with 225 sq. meters of floor space. The building was constructed in the mid-Meiji Period (1868-1912) by a local geisha and was used as a traditional-style inn and then later as a sushi restaurant.

It was decided the facility would be rented out after its owner donated the property to the city last year.

The municipal government said that any business operator with corporate status is eligible to apply.

Because the project is aimed at promoting Kyoto’s traditional culture, a committee comprised of experts will weigh the community and economic values of the applicants, officials said.

Businesses will be able to lease the kyo-machiya for 10 years beginning in fiscal 2015.

The municipal government said it will accept applications from mid-May through the end of September.

“I hope that the facility will become a place where many people can experience the atmosphere of Gion,” said Kyoto Mayor Daisaku Kadokawa.