Kura Conversions: Japanese Storehouses Reborn

In my May 15 column in the Japan Times, I wrote about traditional Japanese storehouses, mentioning efforts to preserve these beautiful buildings by converting them into other uses, one example being the house above designed by architect Henmi Mitsuo 辺見 美津男 in Shirakawa, Fukushima Prefecture.

Of course now I want a kura but who has the time or money to run all over looking for one? Enter the Japan Minka Revival Association 日本民家再生協会 (Nihon Minka Saisei Kyokai). JMRA runs a service called “Minka Bank” 民家バンク that matches people who have traditional buildings to sell with people who want to buy ’em. Even if you don’t read Japanese, you can still drool over the pictures. I looked today, and found a kura in Ibaraki in need of love:

You could also buy JMRA’s new book Yomigaeru Kura: Zenkoku Saisei Jirei 44-senよみがえる蔵:全国再生事例44選, which features 44 kura conversions from around the country. There are homes, offices, cafes and even a day-care center for seniors.

I got these photos from JMRA after press time, so I’ll post a few now and come back to add details and links. These are all photos from the book. Below, this restored kura is part of a eel restaurant in Fujioka, Gunma Prefecture called Kashiwaya Shieroemon. The architect is Kissou Ichinayagi.

The interior below shows how a kura in Maebashi, Gunma Prefecture was transformed into living space by Kissou Ichinayagi.

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