A little town remaining fine old homes and warehouses. Strolling along the antique street takes you to the good old days.
Uchiko, a little town within one hour’s drive from Matsuyama, flourished from 1720s to 1930s, as a production center for traditional wax made from a kind of nuts, whose quality was worldly recognized. “Yokaichi & Gokoku Quarters”, or antique district of those days was designated as an important preservation district for historic buildings. You can stroll the 600 meter long street with fine white and yellowish walled merchants’ homes and warehouses, feeling back to its good old days.
Hon-Haga Residence, a dwelling of the Haga family, the most prosperous merchant of the wax production and export, is the most gorgeous building among the district. As the family still lives in this important cultural property house, allowed seeing only the appearance and its garden, the splendid and delicate decorations are worth a look. Another Haga’s house, Kami-Haga Residence has a small wax museum, where you can understand how people made good quality whitened wax. Also you should not miss a Japanese candle shop along the street, which is the only one of hand-made candle in a traditional manner. You may watch the master make candles by layering the liquid vegetable wax on the wick.
The wealth by the wax production generated another cultural asset in Uchiko. Uchiko-za Theater, a full-scale theater for Kabuki & Bunraku, was costructed in 1916 by Uchiko merchants, celebrating the Emperor Taisho’s coronation. The theater, in ten minutes walk from the classical street, offered the entertainments for local people of those days. After remodeled for other uses, it was restored to original state in 1985. A self-guided tour is available.
[Air] 1h 20 min from Haneda to Matsuyama Airport, and 20 min from the airport to Matsuyama Station by bus.
[Rail] 3h 20 min from Tokyo to Okayama Station by JR Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen Line, and 2h 40 min from Okayama to Matsuyama Station by JR Seto-ohashi/Yosan Line (limited express). 30 min from Matsuyama to Uchiko Station by JR Yosan Line (limited express).
[Air] 50 min from Itami to Matsuyama Airport.
[Rail] 45 min from Shin-Osaka to Okayama Station by Shinkansen.