are traditional wooden townhouses found throughout Japan and typified in the historical capital of Kyoto. Machiya (townhouses) and nōka (farm dwellings) constitute the two categories of Japanese vernacular architecture known as minka (folk dwellings). Machiya originated as early as the Heian period and continued to develop through to the Edo period and even into the Meiji period. Machiya housed urban merchants and craftsmen, a class collectively referred to as chōnin (townspeople). The word machiya is written using two kanji: machi (町) meaning “town”, and ya (家 or 屋) meaning “house” (家) or “shop” (屋) depending on the kanji used to express it.