文化遺産国際協力コンソーシアム Japan Consortium for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage JCIC-Heritage logo JCIC-Heritage

Hoi An Townscape Preservation Project

Hoi An Townscape Preservation Project

Showa Women's University

Viet Nam

Hoi An City

1993-2003 Project Planning Surveys,Human Resource Development,Conservation and Restoration,Fundamental Research,Awareness Raising and Promotional Activities,Funding
01/03/2009
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BACKGROUND

Hoi An, Home to an Erstwhile Japan Town and an International Trading Port in Vietnam on the Silk Road of the Seas

In the age of geographical discovery, Hoi An prospered as a commercial trading port, thanks to its strategic location where the East and West meet on the Silk Road of the Seas. During those times, the lively town was home to Portuguese and Dutch trading houses, a Chinatown, and a Japan Town, and it was where trading ships of the Japanese Shogunate made frequent visits. The center of commerce, however, thereafter shifted from the river port of Hoi An to the seaport of Da Nang. It was thanks to this shifting of activities that the town was able to hand down to later generations its elaborately-sculpted wooden homes, which were built according to construction technologies accumulated during the town’s prosperous years. The ancient town, which centered on two main east-west roads running parallel to the Thu Bon River, blessedly escaped the ravages of the Vietnam War, but post-war poverty prevented any attempts of rebuilding, and numerous traditional houses remained in imminent danger of collapse. Under this situation, the government of Vietnam took the occasion of the resumption of diplomatic relations with Japan to strongly request Japan’s cooperation in preserving the wooden cultural heritage of Hoi An based on its experience, as a sign of friendship between the two countries.

Townscape of Hoi An

Inside of a house in Hoi An

ACTIVITIES

Cooperation in Establishing a Townscape Preservation Framework in Vietnam

In 1992, Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs called on the Institute of International Culture at Showa Women’s University to implement the cooperation in Hoi An. The university enlisted the cooperation of Chiba University and the University of Tokyo, among others, and commenced a study on the preservation of the townscape of Hoi An, with funding by various research grants. It also organized a fundraising campaign, so that it was able to implement the housing restoration project first with donations from private companies, then with subsidies from private foundations, and lastly with aid from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). In keeping with the efforts of the university, the Agency for Cultural Affairs assembled a group of engineers from such organizations as the Japanese Association for Conservation of Architectural Monuments, prefectural boards of education, and the Nihon Kenchiku Seminar (Japan Architecture Seminar), and sent them to Hoi An to provide guidance.
A fundamental principle of the restoration project is to employ local technologies, materials, and methods wherever possible. Therefore, a framework of cooperation was established with local institutions, including the Hoi An Monument Management Office, construction contractors, the Vietnam Institute of Architecture under the Ministry of Construction, architecture universities in Vietnam, and the Vietnam National University in Hanoi. This framework has effectively facilitated the smooth implementation of the project by all members.

House restoration work in Hoi An

Japanese Bridge in Hoi An

RESULTS

Independence Gained from Tourism Development = Shift from Cooperation to Interaction

Owing to the concerted efforts of the townscape preservation project, the local residents, and the government of Vietnam, Hoi An was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1999. This has boosted the annual number of tourists to Hanoi to more than 1 million in 2007. When considering the fact that the town received only 2,500 tourists in 1992, the townscape preservation activities have indeed contributed to revitalizing the poor economy in central Vietnam. These efforts and achievements have received widespread recognition, and have earned the project the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Award for Cultural Heritage Conservation, the Japan Architectural Institute Award, and the Cultural Merit Award from the Vietnamese government, in 2000.

In August 2003, the Hoi An International Festival and Symposium were held as a commemorative event marking the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Vietnam, at the call of the Embassy of Japan in Vietnam. The successful event was made possible by the city of Hoi An and Quang Nam Province, with cooperation from the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs, JICA, the Japan Foundation, the Asia-Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO (ACCU), and Showa Women’s University. Participation by Mr. Gohei Kawabata, Mayor of Omi-Hachiman City and grand masters of the urasenke tea tradition also boosted the festival mood. The symposium welcomed the President of UNESCO ICOMOS as guest speaker, and adopted the Hoi An Declaration on preserving Asia’s wooden living heritage.
The festival has been held every year since, with the cooperation of JICA’s Junior Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV). Its 6th festival in August 2008 marked the 35th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Vietnam, and the 7th festival, scheduled to be held from August 14 to 16, 2009, will commemorate the 10th anniversary of Hoi An’s inscription on the World Heritage List. The Embassy of Japan and other relevant parties are currently preparing for the 7th festival, which will also include an international symposium featuring experts in the field of cultural heritage preservation from around the world. The festival looks forward to receiving large crowds of people from throughout Vietnam and Japan.

Hoi An International Festival

Exhibition of the World Heritage Site of Hoi An

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