Uchiko is a town in the west region of Shikoku. It has a nice historical discrict that looks as it did over 100 years ago, when the village was prosperous thanks to the wax trade.
Uchiko-za and other interesting places
There are many interesting sites to visit. Uchiko-za is a wooden theatre built in 1916 to celebrate the new Emperor Taisho; few decades ago, the theatre was in danger of being demolished because of its ageing, but the community decided to restore and use it for events and performances. The theatre’s interior displays some of the typical “special effects” of kabuki theatre:
- Hanamichi: a walkway leading from the back of the theatre to the stage between the side and the central seats, used for the dramatic entrances of the actos
- Suppon: a man-powered lift-trapdoor located in the sideway and used to make ghosts and monsters appear from nowhere
- Mawaributai: the rotating platform at the centre of the stage, used to change scenes quickly.
Other interesting sites are the Museum of Commercial and domestic life, showing the daily life of a drugstore owner’s family and employees, and the Wax museum, located in the Kamikaga Residence. Here an interesting exhibition displays the way wax was obtained from the berries of the sumac trees and its many different uses.
The visit of the village takes half day and the best way to do it is booking a tour with the volunteer guides from Uchiko locals.
They are passionate about the place’s history, can speak english perfectly and help preserving this amazing heritage with their precious work.
More info on www.we-love-uchiko.jp
How to get here: from Matsuyama JR Station there are frequent local/express trains to Uchiko. It takes nearly 1 hour to get there plus a 5 minute walk from the station to Uchiko-za.
The maps of the village can be found almost everywhere and leaflets in english are provided in all the museums.