Introduction to Japan's Preservation Districts

The villages of thatched roofs having weathered over the ages, the groups of warrior residences in quite environments surrounded by earthen walls and low bushes, the heavy earthen-walled warehouses, or streetscapes of merchant towns are all precious Japanese cultural heritage, handed down through generations over long periods of time. They are indispensable for understanding the history and culture of our country, and it is our responsibility to pass these on to the next generation.

The revision of The Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties in 1970, enabled such villages and streetscapes to be recognized as a new category in cultural properties for the first time, as groups of traditional structures composing historic sceneries, together with their surrounding environments. The system of "Preservation Districts for Groups of Historic Buildings" was established to preserve groups of buildings together with their surroundings which as a whole create historic values.

These Preservation Districts for Groups of Historic Buildings exist together with the residents' lives. It is a system where residents of each district and the local municipal government individually cooperate in streetscape preservation. Among such preservation districts, the National Government classifies those of particularly high value as "Important Preservation Districts for Groups of Historic Buildings" and provides assistance for their preservation in various fields.

In Japan's maturing society, there is a high interest in the culture of our country, focusing on history and tradition, and these historic districts are visited by many people today. Additionally, in recent years, there is a growing importance in preservation of such villages and streetscapes of Preservation Districts for Groups of Historic Buildings, gathering attention from all around the nation as well as from foreign countries as a sustainable method for town planning, respecting the characteristics of each district.

Japan's Preservation Districts