Today I continue to write the history of a traditional area in Kawagoe-city.
Kawagoe-city had many big fires since Edo era.(※1)
Especially the big fire in 1893, more than one third houses were destroyed by fire.
So merchants built many “Kura”(※2) in Meiji Era(※3) which were resistant to fire.
“Kura” were usually used as storage but the merchants in Kawagoe-city used “Kura” as their shops.
In the 1960s, some merchants tore down their “Kura” because they thought that
“Kura” were darkish inside and inconvenience to use.
Besides the center of the commercial zone moved
from this traditional area to a place near the new railway station.
In the 1970s, it reached a turning point. Some “Kura” were designated as national cultural assets.But at first the merchants couldn’t believe that “Kura” were valuable and many people came to see the “Kura” .
Later both the city government and citizens began to protest
when high-rise apartments were proposed by developers.
In the 1980s, a citizen’s organization was established to boost local development.
Merchants thought that activated commercial area was more important than they saved “Kura” .At long last the merchants in association with specialists drew up a ” development standard”.
This standard was inspired by pattern language wrriten by Christopher Alexander(※4)
which contained city and architectural design guidelines.
For example city design guidelines was written on “feeling a familiar green” and “living and
working at same location. “And architecture design guidelines was written on “height”, “natural and local material”and “shape”.
Later visual design guidelines wew introduced and Kawagoe-city was subsequently designated a protected district with traditional architectural value.
Citizenz could see more blue sky as aresult of the electric cables were built underground,
The movement thrived around this area.
For example “Taisho Roman”(※5) avenue where some Eropean architecture with
nostalgic atmosphere were preserved.
Now more than four million people come to see Kawagoe-city every year.
I hope that you can understand clearly what I mean.
(※1) Edo era:a division of Japanese history which was ruled by the shoguns of
the Tokugawa family, running from 1603 to 1868.
(※2) Kura: storehouses made of roof tile and clay.
(※3) Meiji Era:Japanese era which extended from september 1868 through July 1912.
(※4) Christopher Alexander:architect
(※5) Taisho Roman:nearly Taisyo era