Photo/IllutrationA “machiya” town house in Kyoto’s Shimogyo Ward (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

KYOTO—A popular lingerie brand is hoping to kill two birds with one stone by giving Kyoto’s aging “machiya” town houses a lift and converting them into stylish inns.

Wacoal Holdings Corp. said May 30 it will offer rooms in this ever-popular ancient capital from spring and aims to run 50 or so machiya-turned inns in about five years.

The company, which has been diversifying from its mainstay underwear business, hopes to contribute to its home ground by helping preserve traditional Kyoto architecture and solve a chronic accommodation shortage.

Its subsidiary, Wacoal Corp., will rent machiya—often characterized by long, rectangular-shaped layouts with narrow facades—and other old traditional houses from their aging owners, who often find it difficult to take care of those structures.

An increasing number of machiya being left vacant and neglected are becoming a social problem.

The renovated facilities will retain their classic appearance, and interiors will incorporate contemporary art while maintaining the traditional Japanese style.

Rents will be paid out of the profits from the business.

Wacoal envisions holding walking tours, cultural workshops and other events for the guests at the inns.

The company hopes to eventually expand the business to other parts of Kyoto Prefecture.

According to the Kyoto city government’s projections, the annual number of foreign tourists staying overnight in the city is expected to reach 4.4 million in 2020.