Kyoto will remove power poles to ‘beautify’ popular tourist site

Pontocho is known for the preservation of traditional architecture and entertainment. Pic: Pabkov/Shutterstock

LOCAL residents in Kyoto are pushing to remove power poles on a main street in the Pontocho traditional entertainment district to recreate an “old-fashioned” townscape.

According to reports, the city government is working to build underground utility lines, a project that is slated to be completed in early 2020.

The project will cover 17 utility poles that line the street. The street is home to traditional Japanese entertainment that Kyoto has come to be known for, namely ochaya (tea houses) where maikos and geishas serve customers.

The district is known for the preservation of traditional architecture and entertainment.

Locals have been fighting to preserve the old feel of the street since 2011 by taking down gaudy advertisements and neon lights.

Yuichi Kaneda, deputy leader of the Pontocho town planning group, told The Japan Times, “We were left with a sky filled with utility poles after removing the signboards. Utility poles can collapse in the event of disaster, so we wanted to do something about them.”

Meanwhile, Daiki Kusunoki, head of the ochaya group, said, “Maikos don’t look good alongside utility poles. The project is essential to restoring the townscape with an old-time atmosphere.”

In a separate commentary, the writer expressed that burying power lines across Japan could make towns and cities more resilient in the event of natural disasters.

The writer added that the cables are an “eyesore”, not worthy of an advanced economy, and disappoints tourists from abroad.

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