World Monuments Fund Announces Partnership To Restore Historic Kumamoto Buildings Damaged by 2016 Japan Earthquake
New York, NY, August 3, 2017 – World Monuments Fund (WMF) announced today their partnership with Kumamoto Machinami Trust (KMT) supporting local community efforts in Kumamoto Castle Town, Japan, to restore several iconic structures damaged by the Kumamoto Earthquake in April 2016. World Monuments Fund’s efforts are made possible by a generous grant from the Freeman Foundation.
About 350 historic buildings essential to the town’s historic streetscape sustained damage in the 2016 earthquake. Some were demolished in the aftermath of the disaster, leaving many of the approximately 300 structures that remained at great risk of demolition. WMF initially joined ICOMOS Japan in an on-site field study in May 2016 to understand priorities and conservation needs, and will now assist KMT in their restoration efforts.
Kumamoto Castle Town, known also as Shinmachi-Furumachi, dates back over 400 years to the well-known Kumamoto Castle’s construction. In 1877, during the last civil war in Japan, most of the town’s Edo period structures were destroyed by fire. Several of the remaining historic structures and features of the townscape were preserved. In the wake of the destruction, the rebuilding efforts at the end of the 19th century led to the inclusion of traditional wooden townhouses called machiya and new buildings, which today are part of the essential character of the town.
“When natural disaster hits, conservation of a town like Kumamoto is as much about the community residents who live and work in its historic structures as it is about the buildings themselves,” said Joshua David, President and Chief Executive Officer, World Monuments Fund. “We hope this partnership with KMT serves as a model for our work to support communities whose treasured heritage assets are devastated by natural disaster.”
“The Freeman Foundation is proud to support the crucial conservation efforts at Kumamoto Castle Town,” said Graeme Freeman, Chairman of the Freeman Foundation. “Maintaining sense of place for a community and preserving the historic nature of a townscape are important actions following disaster. We look forward to watching Kumamoto’s restoration come to life.”
KMT is addressing the documentation, community outreach and preservation efforts in the town. They identified five priority historic buildings for this project that are symbolic structures preserving the character of the castle town. The restoration program supported by WMF will be completed in March 2019.
World Monuments Fund is the leading independent organization devoted to saving the world’s treasured places. Since 1965, working in 120 countries, its highly skilled experts have applied proven and effective techniques to the preservation of important architectural and cultural heritage sites around the globe. Through partnerships with local communities, funders, and governments, WMF seeks to inspire an enduring commitment to stewardship for future generations. Headquartered in New York City, the organization has offices and affiliates worldwide. Visit www.wmf.org for more information, or connect with us on facebook.com/worldmonuments, twitter.com/worldmonuments, and instagram.com/worldmonumentsfund.
Kumamoto Machinami Trust (KMT) is a local private NPO dedicating to preserving the Kumamoto castle town of Shinmachi/Furumachi since its establishment in 1997. Their programs ensure sustainable preservation of cultural heritage valued locally. KMT has also been working with other local NPO’s to save and preserve other built heritage in Kumamoto.