A race against time to save Japan’s traditional homes

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Over the last 30 years, Alex Kerr has given 574 presentations on the cultural importance of Japan’s minka (traditional village homes). For the first 573, his audiences were filled with nothing but local bureaucrats skeptical about lifting a finger to preserve these striking properties.

“They all had to be convinced that minka are not worthless but wonderful,” Kerr told the audience at the Minka Summit, the site of the noted Japanologist’s 574th such presentation. “The people who are coming to this conference are really doing (things with) minka. You don’t need to be convinced that minka are wonderful.”

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