Uchiko town is located around 40km south of Matsuyama city. It was the 1st place in Shikoku to be designated as an important preservation district of historical buildings, and the 18th in the whole of Japan.
The beautiful white plaster-walled townscape looks almost as it did in the Edo period!
This time we’ll talk a little about Uchiko’s history while taking a tour around town.
During the Edo period Uchiko prospered due to its production of Japanese paper, and from the late Edo period (1603~1867) to the Taisho period (1912~1926), with production of Japanese wax. With the wax it produced being shipped to Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe and overseas bringing enormous riches, the town thrived especially well during the Meiji period (1868~1912). Thanks to those riches, some high quality buildings were constructed.
So the reason Uchiko’s townscape is so lovely is thanks to wax!
Buildings from the late Edo period to the Meiji period, and then the Taisho period, stand side by side, and for some reason I feel nostalgic.
This somewhat modern looking building is a children’s welfare facility. It is old, but feels somehow new!
Is that a person…?
It’s the “Business and Living Museum”, and other tourists stopped spontaneously, too!
Using dolls and various period objects, it’s a museum that shows people’s lifestyles in Taisho era teahouses.
It’s the kind of ambience that one might expect to see in a historical drama.
This time it’s Mito Komon.
I take a commemorative photograph.
Here is a spot that we’d like you to stop by on your walk around town. It’s the Mokurou Shiryokan Kamihagatei.
Built with part of the family’s wax production fortune, this splendid building was the residence of the Kamihaga family.
They were the branch family of the Haga family that built the foundation for Uchiko’s wax industry and were at the center of its development. A store was set up at the current location in 1861.
The 10 buildings located here have been designated as important cultural properties of Japan. In addition to the exhibition building displaying the wax manufacturing process, you can also see buildings made from good quality materials among other aspects of living in olden times.
This is the kitchen.
I wonder if it’s because so many people worked here, but it’s really spacious!
This is the exhibition building displaying wax materials. The wax manufacturing process among others is introduced using videos and model tools
By the way, do you know what wax is made of?
There are western style candles and Japanese candles, and their raw materials are completely different.
Japanese wax that has existed since ancient times is made from the fruit of the wax tree. For more in-depth information, please stop by the exhibition!
This is one of the buildings as seen from the garden.
The garden is so big! The cream colored walls are lovely, too.
This is the inner garden.
There is a shrine here in which a deity is enshrined.
In olden times, at big residences like this they would make a shrine for the gods within the grounds.
How do you like the townscape of Uchiko??
There are plenty of delicious dishes, souvenirs and interesting spots I’d still like to introduce to you.
You really must come for a visit at least once in your lifetime.
Mokuro Shiryokan Kamihagatei
Location: 2696 Uchiko, Uchiko-cho, Kita district, Ehime prefecture
Closed: New Year’s Holidays (December 29th thru January 2nd)
Parking: Parking area run by the town (5-minute walk)
Admission: Single ticket (Adults JPY500 / Children JPY250)
Set tickets (Adults JPY900 / Children JPY450)
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Maki Ohashi
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