Many of you have asked about these old storehouses. They are common in my part of northern Kyoto, as well as in some of the downtown areas where older houses remain. They are large, two-storey buildings made of thick mud walls (today's image has modern tin siding added) that are designed to be fireproof. Families and shops used to store all their most valuable items (scroll paintings, kimono, etc) in them. They are often -- like in today's shot -- within the walled grounds of a compound composed of several buildings including the main house. The small hole at the top is for ventiliation, and they often have a Chinese character 水 (water) inscribed near the top window to ward off fire.