The mansions of wax magnates, an Edo-period townscape, and high-quality theatrics
As you walk through this district of Uchiko, it's easy to feel as though you are slipping back in time. The peaceful town gives an insight into 18th-century Japan, with a wonderful Kabuki theater and former residence of the town's wax magnates.
- Traditional Japanese theater at the Uchikoza Theater
- Buying a handmade candle made by local artisans
In the 18th century, the major industry of Uchiko was the production of wax
The 600-meter streetscape is in the hirairi zukuri style, with the walls plastered with pale yellow lime plaster
How to Get There
From Matsuyama JR Station, take the JR Yosan limited express train, which takes just 30 minutes. Once at Uchiko Station, walk for 20 minutes through the town to reach the Yokaichi Old Town area. On weekends and holidays, the Chagamaru Retro Bus goes to all major tourist destinations within the town.
Keep it in wax
Three of the area's grandest houses were built by the eminent wax merchants that lived in Uchiko during the 18th century. You can enjoy the majestic homes of the Honhaga and the Omura families from their exteriors. Explore the Kamihaga Residence and Wax Museum to see a beautiful example of the architecture up close and find out about the history of the town.
The streetscape lies at the heart of Uchiko and the base for its continued preservation is the Yokaichi Gokoku Streetscape Preservation District . See exhibits on how the structure of the buildings was created and traditional tools used for construction.
A dramatic building
Pay a visit to the Uchikoza Theater to catch bunraku puppet shows, rakugo comedic storytelling or Kabuki performances. If you're pressed for time, take a tour around the theater; you can see the revolving stage, hidden tunnels, and trapdoors that make Japanese plays such a theatrical spectacle.
At the beginning of August, catch Uchiko's Sasa Matsuri, a festival that sees the street festooned in colorful streamers made from paper, recycled household waste, and bamboo. The community spends weeks preparing these intricate decorations, which are hung from bamboo poles to create images ranging from cartoon characters to Kabuki masks.
Candles and chestnuts
Head to Omori Candle Shop for a handmade souvenir and watch the candles being made. Uchiko is also famous for producing large chestnuts, and these are prepared in many dishes and sweets at restaurants around the town.
Enjoy locally sourced produce in the expansive tatami rooms of Shimohagatei restaurant, which overlooks an exquisite garden.