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Notes on the Geography of Japan: Nara: Naramachi

Naramachi is the Nara district that has tried to retain at least a vestige of its traditional character.

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Japan: Nara: Naramachi picture 1

Initial impressions are not encouraging.

Japan: Nara: Naramachi picture 2

Here, however, a new house has been built in the traditional style of the urban townhouse, or machiya. It's open as a free museum.

Japan: Nara: Naramachi picture 3

The floorplan is long and narrow, fitting the historically characteristic long, narrow lot.

Japan: Nara: Naramachi picture 4

Room is made for an inner garden or naka-niwa.

Japan: Nara: Naramachi picture 5

The garden is more likely to be enjoyed from inside than out.

Japan: Nara: Naramachi picture 6

A box staircase, or hako-kaidan, doubling as a cabinet.

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The posts are trunks.

Japan: Nara: Naramachi picture 8

The single-roomed upstairs.

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The rooftop view.

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Stove.

Japan: Nara: Naramachi picture 11

Back on a more traditional-looking street.

Japan: Nara: Naramachi picture 12

Plenty of wood fronts.

Japan: Nara: Naramachi picture 13

More.

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Wood slats, or koshi, deflect prying eyes while allowing residents to see the street.

Japan: Nara: Naramachi picture 15

Entrance.

Japan: Nara: Naramachi picture 16

The same building.

Japan: Nara: Naramachi picture 17

A pharmacy.

Japan: Nara: Naramachi picture 18

Misfit.

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Why were lots so narrow? One explanation is that taxes were proportional to facade length.

Japan: Nara: Naramachi picture 20

The local craft museum.


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