Supporters Network for Community Development "Machizukuri"
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12. Historical Architectures

DaiichiKangyo Bank in Kobe before earthquake
Daiichikangyo Bank in Kobe after earthquake
 Due to the earthquake, quite a few historical buildings were damaged. Among them, there are not only legally designated as the historical buildings in the area of "Traditional architectures preserved zone" such as Kitano and Yamamoto areas in Kobe, but also those that were not been officially designated. For example, shrines and temples of local significance, modern houses in the Hanshin area, wooden sake breweries in the Nada area, famous for its sake and also the modern architectures made by stone in the Old Settlements of Motomachi. These important historical and cultural buildings, that are not designated, are privately owned, and their owners are responsible for the reconstruction. The owners, also earthquake victims, were often not able or willing to rebuild or restore the buildings as they had been.
 Even in the legally designed historic districts, Kitano and Yamamoto, it was quite difficult to preserve historical buildings. Among about 80 of western-styled houses in the Kitano district, only 28 western-style houses and 4 Japanese-style houses were legally designated as important traditional architectural buildings. Because they were designated by "Cultural Heritage Conservation Law", they were supported as much as 90% for their repairing costs. This does not include the cost for interior and furniture. It only covers structural reconstruction and finishing. In other buildings, the owners were responsible for reconstruction.
 Therefore, the Kitano / Yamamoto Preservation Association, which has been active in the preservation of townscape in the area since before the earthquake, set up the "Western-style Housing Fund" to preserve the Western-style houses and to open them to the public.
 Even in the traditional architectures preserved area, they face to the difficulty in preservation because of the lack of fund to rebuild those that are not legally designated as the cultural assets. In other cases, it is almost impossible to conserve historical architectures, because of the lack of traditional technique, materials, and finance. Sometimes it costs more to restore houses than to demolish and replace them. As a result, only one or two wooden breweries will be restored in the brewery area and there are no plans for Japanese-style and Western-style houses in the Hanshin area to be restored. In Ashiya, there is popular support for preserving the Western houses, but there is little support for preservation from the local government.
 Even before the earthquake, the number of Japanese-style and Western-style houses of 1920's and 30's in Kobe and the Hanshin area had declined because of alteration. A movement for the conservation of these existing characteristic buildings, and the townscape they represent, had been growing along with increasing interest in the local landscape. We, however, lost irreplaceable local cultural resources in the earthquake.
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