Preserving Local Culture

People make a town. People drive culture. Buildings make spaces unique and beautiful. These are worth maintaining. I have always been a proponent of supporting local businesses, as well as preserving historic buildings and vibrant local culture. After all, when you travel, you want to feel like you’re going somewhere new and immerse yourself in a local culture.

I watched a YouTube video recently on the oldest run business in the world, which is a hot spring hotel in Hakone. The catch is, how is this defined? The original site is completely different from the current location, which had a building erected in the late Showa era. The services offered are also different. When the business started, it didn’t offer food or lodging, but now it does. That being said, it is a historic site in which its owners and workers take care to maintain and preserve, while adapting to the times and changing demands.

My hometown has a law that doesn’t allow for any fast-food restaurants within a certain radius of the town. This contributes to a strong local culture. Somehow Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts cafés were able to bypass that law, but the point is that my town has a rich and bustling restaurant industry owned by a person or entity rather than a chain which can be found anywhere. The quality of the food in all the restaurants is amazing, and the service is great as well. People treat the workers like family, and the workers are there for decades. You know you are responsible for the success and well-being of others, so get along despite differences in opinion or views. This creates a strong sense of community.

Many of the shops themselves are housed in historic buildings. You can tell which buildings in the town are older because they are made of brick and generally have a unified look while not being exactly the same. It gives the town a cozy feel while making it easily distinguishable from other towns. Regardless of the changes the town goes through, these buildings should be preserved.

The Covid-19 pandemic took out many businesses. It is heartbreaking to see many closed shops and empty windows in my town. The worst hit was the century-old local movie theater going out of business right after its centennial anniversary. It was founded in 1920 and was central to the town’s culture. It was fun to watch movies at the local theater because it felt like you were going to someone’s house while keeping the feel of a movie theater. Since it was a local theater in a town where everyone knows everyone, it was a place to see and be seen and socialize. Sometimes people would react out loud and interact with the film because it wasn’t a large theater with many people who would get annoyed if you spoke during the movie. It wasn’t annoying because there was just an unspoken understanding of when it was or wasn’t ok. The entire town knows my dad as the guy who went to that movie theater just to buy the largest size popcorn and leave. He’s a bit eccentric, but not the only one. There are a few people in town I don’t know personally know but recognize on sight.

Preserving local culture and architecture maintains each place’s character and personality, making it refreshing when visiting and opens your eyes to different ways of life.


proponent (noun) – a person who supports an idea or course of action
bypass (verb) – to go around or avoid
take out (phrasal verb) – to eliminate or destroy
to see and be seen (idiom) – to see and be noticed by important or fashionable people
out loud (adverb) – in a voice that can be heard by other people