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machiyagram MACHIYA RESIDENCE INNAll About Machiya

Koshi Wooden Lattice - Machiya House Features

Inviting kyo machiya (Kyoto machiya) entrances. Walk through the streets of Kyoto and you will without a doubt come across wooden architectures known as machiya (町家・町屋), which make up most of Kyoto’s historical townscape. Not only were these traditional architectures a place to live, but they also functioned as storefronts for many families.

Whilst there were no large and flashy signs, customers were able to determine what each store sold either by looking at the ‘kanban’ store signs (when available) or just by looking at the koshi wooden lattice designs.

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    The koshi lattices are said to have been incorporated in the kyo machiya design after the Ōnin War, after Kyoto city saw much destruction. In addition to being aesthetically beautiful, these koshi lattices had practical uses. From crime prevention, privacy protection to natural lighting, there were many benefits to installing koshi. Locals were even able to determine the type of store a machiya architecture housed just from looking at the thickness of the lattice.
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    Every koshi design held a specific meaning. Windows that were covered from top to bottom in koshi indicated liquor shops ("sakaya koshi"), as the square-shaped lumber were built strong & sturdy. Were the koshi to be accidentally hit by a sake barrel, they were sturdy enough to not break.
    On the other hand, lattice designs that did not cover the entire window & used slimmer pieces of wood were associated with kimono, textile, and thread shops.
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    You’ll notice that the top half of the wooden lattice are cut off - this type of koshi is known as “itoya koshi”. This particular design allowed for plenty of natural light to enter the kyo machiya, so it was often used in stores such as thread stores and kimono stores that showcased colorful items. In addition, the number of cut lattices that stood within each section was adjusted according to the type of store: 4 for weavers, 3 for thread shops, and 2 for kimono shops!

To get the most out of your next visit to Kyoto, stay in a traditional machiya holiday house (vacation rental) with MACHIYA RESIDENCE INN. Reserve an entire kyo machiya, and choose a machiya house that best fits into your own unique travel needs. If you would like a recommendation on where to stay, feel free to contact our staff.

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