KURAZUKURI Warehouse Streets (蔵作りの町並み)
Once you walk into the street, you might think you have traveled back in time: thick black roof tiles, solid doors that open on both sides instead of sliding, heavy brick walls, construction style that resembles old temples. They are called "Kurazukuri" in Japanese which basically means warehouses. Most of the Kurazukuris were built more than 100 years ago in 1893, after the horrible fire that devastated Kawagoe. People at that time realized that fire spreads so quickly among wooden structures, therefore they learnt from the past and began building fire-proof houses.
Among the Kurazukuris, the Ozawa House has the longest history dating back to 1792. Originally a household store selling Kimono garments, it survived the fire and later the huge earthquake in 1923, thus inspiring other merchants to follow suit. At one time there were as many as 100 Kurazukuris but as time passes by, only around 30 of them remain. Because they no longer exist in Tokyo anymore, Kurazukuris are very precious and are designated as one of the country's most important building heritages in 2007.
Nowadays, when the local citizens are planning to build new houses around the Kurazukuri, they work hard to coordinate the style in order to preserve the original atmosphere. Together with the Toki-no-kane Bell Tower which we will cover slightly later, Kurazukuris are indeed the finest reflection of time in Koedo Kawagoe.