KYOTO — Five “machiya,” or traditional wooden houses, in central Kyoto were opened to the public Friday in an effort to gain public appreciation for their preservation.

The five houses, which will be open through Thursday, are the Yoshida and Noguchi houses in Nakagyo Ward and the Sugimoto, Hata and Nagae houses in Shimogyo wards. They were built between the mid-19th century and early this century. They originally contained kimono shops or pharmacies.

“I opened this house to let people learn about daily life and culture here,” said Kojiro Yoshida, 61, who lives in the Yoshida House with his wife and cats. The Yoshida family ran a traditional Japanese clothing shop that opened in the Meiji Era (1868-1912) and stayed in business until 1951.

Yoshida has renovated one of its tatami rooms on the second floor into a noh stage and sometimes holds exhibitions and art performances for his friends at the house. Visitors can view the first floor during the day and the second floor at night.

Because people live in the houses, space for visitors is limited. Admission to the five houses is 1,500 yen for those junior high school age and older. Proceeds will be used for preserving machiya, according to the Kyoto Cultural Tourist Resources Protection Foundation, a subsidiary of the Kyoto Municipal Government.

The houses are open between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The Yoshida House also is open between 6 and 9 p.m., and admission during those hours is 500 yen. For more information, call the foundation at (075) 752-0235, or fax (075) 752-0236.

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