As the ancient city of Kyoto (pictured) goes modern, many of its traditional machiya townhouses are being lost to the wrecking ball, according to Erica Avrami, research and education director for the World Monuments Fund.
"That's understandable in a growing and thriving urban environment," but "at the same time, these are such important historical vestiges ... it's important they're not all lost," Avrami said.
The machiya, which date to Japan's Edo Period (1603 to 1867), once functioned as both houses and workplaces for Kyoto's merchant class.
The World Monuments Fund put the townhouses on their 2010 and 2012 watch lists, and has worked with Japanese revitalization groups to restore some machiya.
"The machiya represent a concerted effort [to] have a good mix of the new and contemporary as well as the traditional within a thriving city."
(See National Geographic Traveler's top ten things to do in Japan.)