Youkaichi Gokoku Streetscape Preservation Center
Streetscape of traditional Japanese-style houses, like a scene straight out of a movie
In the 18th century, the major industry of Uchiko Town, Ehime Prefecture, was the production of Japanese wax that was extracted plentifully from Japanese wax trees. There was a high demand for Japanese wax, not only for candles, but also as a glossing agent or ingredient for ointment. The town flourished greatly, and the merchants had built high-quality, handsome houses as if competing with each other.
Entering the era of petroleum in the 19th century, Japanese wax became unnecessary and the handlers have disappeared one after another. However, their beautiful houses remained, fortunately with no major fires. In 1982, the Youkaichi Gokoku district in Uchiko Town was selected as a Group of Traditional Buildings by the national government, and the beauty and high value of the traditional buildings became well known throughout the country.
The characteristic of the streetscape, extending for 600m from north to south along the road, is the architectural style called Hirairi Zukuri, with the walls painted in pale yellows and with lime plaster. Each house is decorated with traditional designs for a Japanese house, including namako walls, gables, plaster reliefs, and tiles on roof ridges, catching visitors' eyes. The narrow alleys between houses also show an original beauty that cannot be found in other places.
The streetscape is the treasure of the town, and the base for its preservation is the Youkaichi Gokoku Streetscape Preservation Center. There are exhibits on the structure of the buildings and tools used for construction, which can be observed free of charge.
Address: 211 Shiromawari, Uchiko Town, Kita-Gun, Ehime
Hours open to visitors: 09:00 - 16:30
Admission Fee: free of charge
Closed: Tuesdays and national holidays
Directions: Train: 20 minutes on foot from Uchiko Station, which is on the JR Yosan Line (5 hours from Shin-Osaka station)