When volunteering for the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), two Japanese girls fell in love with the ancient unique architecture in Duong Lam village.

Yamaguchi Yoriko and Inoue Aiko work as technical advisors for preserving and restoring ancient architectural works in Duong Lam village, which is Vietnam ’s national relics.

After living with the villagers for nearly two years, Yoriko feels the Vietnamese spirit from the village’s banyan trees, wharf and old houses and has fallen in love with this land.

Meanwhile, Aiko has turned into a country girl, following the farmers to the fields to harvest rice and corn. She is also always ready to work as a tourist guide and an interpreter and even prepare meals for guests.

As they are so close to the villagers, they show the Duong Lam villagers how to balance tourism, preservation and development.

According to Aiko, Duong Lam’s attraction is not only in the beauty of its ancient houses, but also because it has preserved the atmosphere and feel of a Vietnamese village.

Ha Nguyen Huyen, the owner of a 160-year-old house and the first local person to open his house to visitors, said volunteers like Yoriko and Aiko have helped Duong Lam villagers to know the value of their houses and their home village.

Moreover, JICA-funded projects have helped people in Duong Lam to develop tourism on a sustainable basis and improve their living conditions.

Located 60km far from Hanoi city centre, Duong Lam village is the only place to have an undamaged collection of an ancient Vietnamese village.

The village has nearly 1,000 traditional houses. Of them, about 30 are over 200 years old and a few of them were built over 400 years ago./.