Black shrine/residential building in Kiya-machi Dori Kyoto, Japan

A renovation project from Kyoto, Japan. Located in a tiny Kiya-machi Dori street, in the most narrow spot between of two rivers: small, but fast flowing Takasegawa canal and main river for Kyoto Yatsuyanagicho. It is the only place that you can see the both rivers from the street  (not visible in pictures though).

Originally the building was from 60’s (a guess by looking at older photographs) and it was renovated in 2010. It stands out due to an unusual burnt wood façade and a huge tree in front of it.

This building combines both worlds: the contemporary and the traditional one.

Kyoto Kiya-machi Dori shrine black house3

Click image to enlarge

I like this area of Kyoto a lot, in fact I just love it! In April 2012 I had participated in an architectural/urban planning competition of Takasegawa river (or canal) and it’s surroundings. So to keep long story short, during my last visit to Japan I decided to stop by Kyoto just to have a stroll in the area I spent so many hours working on,  all from a huge distance. And the walk was definitely worth the stop: I walked on foot the whole stretch of Takesagawa river (about 4 km) and the atmosphere was just magical. This little black building was a pleasant discovery as the particular spot is not covered by the google street-view (to prepare myself for the competition I virtually walked a lot in this area).

Kyoto Kiya-machi Dori shrine black house2

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This particular spot has a has a long history and plenty of stories to be told about. From 8th century it used to be an imperial garden with a mansion in this area. Nothing remains of the palace, but this tree, named Enoki is the only remain of the huge forest that once stood here. Enoki is revered as the sacred tree and it was selected as the “tree of pride for residents,” the city of Kyoto in 2000. That is reflected in the torii Daimyojin Enoki is enshrined in the back.

The tree is full of life: tiny green (and loud) parakeets were dashing in and out of the canopy, some huge mushrooms grow on it. Here, it feels as if the time has stopped.

Kyoto Kiya-machi Dori shrine black house4

Click image to enlarge

Kyoto Kiya-machi Dori shrine black house

Click image to enlarge

This building is not only a shrine, but also an atellier apartment/artist residence. I had a quick glance at the interior: hight ceilings, exposed structure, contemporary lighting.

Kyoto Kiya-machi Dori shrine black house1

Click image to enlarge

This is the only perspective that pitched roof is visible. Approaching the house from the south it looks completely like a contemporary box (in contrast to very traditional or 80’s buildings in this area).

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5 comments
  1. This is a really interesting mix – what is the concept/process behind the burnt wood facade? Such an unusual colour…

    • Sadly I do not know the answer to your question: I did not find who did the renovation. So I can only tell what was personally observed.

      • Thanks for the reply – this will be something to put on my to-find out list!

  2. The calming effect of the tree and the black building in the midst of the modern buildings and street is palpable from the photographs. These contrasts are so fascinating.

    • Thank you Windhound . Here you can almost taste the richness of history, nature, old, new, decay and life…
      Even this whole street by the river of Takasegawa is just magical: the time has stopped there. In total it is about 4 kilometres in length, when I had to walk back on a parallel street with new mid rise building type it took very long mentally.

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