Uchiko / EhimeTraditional inns, crafts, and kabuki thrive in small-town Japan

A variety of handmade goods at Uchiko no Wa

Experience a wide range of traditional Japanese activities in Uchiko, a small town in Ehime Prefecture in Shikoku, the smallest of Japan’s four main islands. This quaint, traditional town thrived during the late nineteenth century–early twentieth century as a center of Japanese paper and Japanese wax manufacturing. Some of the traditional buildings have been kept in their original state, offering you a rare chance to travel back in time and experience the atmosphere of Uchiko's heyday.

Uchiko-za: Watch Japanese traditional drama come to life at a traditional theater


Founded in 1916, the Uchiko-za theater is one of the few original Japanese theaters that still hosts performances. As well as being a hub for drama and stagecraft, the theater has many other interesting facets to explore, such as the rotating stage, the hanamichi runway, stage elevator and dressing room. The facility offers an exceptional insight into a disappearing world.

Inside Uchiko-za

The stunning two-story wooden building epitomizes traditional Japanese style and was considered a cutting-edge facility when first constructed. The theatre - able to seat 650 people - was renovated in 1985 after the people of Uchiko came together to rescue it from the threat of demolition.

A guide explains a point of intrest

To enhance your visit, English-language signboards and pamphlets are available. English-speaking volunteer guides can show you around the town; reservations are required for this free-of-charge service. The theater is a 10-minute walk from Uchiko Station.

Buildings near Uchiko-za

Nearby, there are several old family buildings that are designated Important Cultural Properties. Strolling around the streets, it is easy to imagine the lives of local merchants as they went about their business during the Edo period and Meiji era (1603–1867 and 1868–1912, respectively).

Try your hand making traditional local goods at Uchiko no Wa

Uchiko no Wa

Uchiko no Wa runs a range of enthralling craft workshops that give you the chance to make a wide variety of traditional local goods, including wooden-framed, paper-covered lanterns (andon), Japanese candles, and candle-holders. You can also try your hand at paper-cutting and gilding. Uchiko was - and still is - noted for its contribution to traditional Japanese crafts.

Traditional andon lanterns

The workshop's friendly staff comprises highly skilled local craftsmen, including a furniture maker and a ex-sushi chef, who turned his knife skills to paper-cutting.

Staff help visitors make traditional andon lanterns

The facility teaches visitors about local traditional arts and crafts. Indeed, the area's rich rural history seems to come to life during the workshops. In some cases, you can take home what you create at the facility. So, instead of buying souvenirs for friends and family, why not make your own?

In some cases, visitors can take home what they make at the workshops

The lantern workshop costs from 2,000 yen, while prices for the sake cup-making class start from 800 yen. To reach the workshop takes about 15 minutes on foot from Uchiko Station.

Enjoy a stay at the history-steeped Ishidatami No Yado village inn

Ishidatami No Yado inn

Set within an attractive rural landscape, Ishidatami No Yado inn is a warm and welcoming facility in the village of Ishidatami, in Uchiko, Ehime Prefecture. The inn was refashioned from a traditional Japanese home more than 100 years old, and you can sense the history within its walls.

The inn's breakfast and evening meals center around traditional country cuisine, and are prepared using plenty of home-grown vegetables, locally sourced herbs and fish from neighborhood rivers. People from the local farming community cook your meals with care and enthusiasm. The rice you will enjoy is traditionally processed using a water-wheel.

An example of the tasty, traditional fare served at Ishidatami No Yado inn

To get your day off to a refreshing start, try taking a walk around the local area in the clear morning air. Ishidatami is named for the large, flat stones that cover local riverbeds; the stones bear a striking resemblance to Japanese tatami mats.

A sunken hearth at Ishidatami No Yado inn

The inn is located about a 20-minute-long drive from the Uchiko Interchange, or around 25 minutes by taxi from JR Uchiko Station. Prices start from 5,200 yen per night for adults (without meals). A one-night stay with two meals (evening meal and breakfast) costs 8,800 yen. The inn also caters for guests with special food needs, such as elderly patrons or people with allergies, but please notify staff prior to arrival.

Access information

Getting to Uchiko, Ehime Prefecture:

To Matsuyama Airport takes about 1 hour 20 minutes from Haneda International Airport and about one hour from Kansai International Airport or Itami Airport. It then takes about one hour by car to Uchiko.

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change. Unless stated otherwise, prices do not include tax.
*Unauthorized reproduction of material in this article is strictly prohibited.

About “Countryside Stay Japan“

If you’re looking for a new way to experience Japan, sign up for a farm-stay experience through the Countryside Stay Japan program and participate in traditional rural-lifestyle activities in recommended countryside locations.


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