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  • Shona McCarthy

Machiya No hi, 2019, Kyoto

(This post is just a remembrance of things past. I don't recommend traveling unless truly necessary due to COVID-19 concerns.)

While I was last in Kyoto, it was March and I learned, to my great joy, that there was such a thing as Machiya No Hi, or "Day of Townhouses". Kyoto's local government likes to take this day to celebrate central Kyoto's machiya; their traditional architectural buildings.

I found out about all of this by using Google Translate on one of the many event posters on message boards around town. I was so happy about it that I decided to dress up as an Edo Period town girl, or a machiya musume. Part of the official celebrations involved using special hashtags on Instagram posts featuring well-maintained machiya. The best photo won a prize.

(A photo I took in Kamishichiken, 2019.)

The event has an official website. But a great pleasure was being able to scroll through the hashtag and see all the beautiful and remarkable posts people made surrounding the date. This is the relevant hashtag:

#町家の日フォトコン2019

I imagine you could update it each year in April to see the next iteration. Each time it would be delightful. Though in 2020, photo entries are lovely but few so far. Probably due to fears people have of catching the coronavirus. I'm hoping 2021 will see greater numbers.

(Photos I took of various machiya around kyoto, 2019.)

I didn't win, but I took many photos I am proud of. In fact, I took so many that on one day my phone battery died. I love the way Kyoto is full of little lane ways and secret nooks that can be like fairylands of history. But I have more recently learned that there are bans on walking down smaller streets in Kyoto now, since tourists were often walking into what were actually private places and taking photos was offending local residents. So, maybe my stony paradises are now lost. But I have my memories of Kyoto's serene and subtle beauty.

(I took many pictures of myself with Kyoto architecture in the lead up to Machiya No Hi, and some on the day itself, dressed as a machiya musume. 2019.)

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