This is the second day in Setouchi!
Highlight of the trip.
We arrived at Uchiko from Matsuyama, the capital city of Ehime Prefecture. You may get to Uchiko from Matsuyama by express (25 minutes) or local train (1 hour), and it is covered by Japan Rail Pass if you have one. ^^
Uchiko is a traditional small town in Ehime Prefecture, which can be entirely covered on foot. It was once a prosperous center of wax and washi (Japanese paper) production.
Good morning Uchiko!
Checking out of our first HomeAway accommodation!
Before that, we had a gorgeous breakfast just downstairs of our room! In my previous post I have mentioned that our accommodation is also a cafe. It was really like we were staying in a traditional ryokan! And the chef was… our host!!
Omg would you look at that!! Onishi San and his wife conjured up this amazing traditional Japaese breakfast at 7:30am so we could start the day early.
Did you see how many mini dishes are there??? There shirasu (whitebait) with myoga, tomato with sweetpea, pan fried Jyakoten fish cake (super super delicious!), Goma tofu, soybean and konbu, tamagoyaki, yamaimo, beansprout namul and yuba (beancurd skin) with sweet miso, served with steaming hot rice and miso soup.
I want to eat breakfast like this every single dayyyy 😭😭😭…
Love love love!
The cafe is connected to the accommodation’s courtyard, if you have some extra time you can also take your time to relax here.
And then we started our day with just a relaxing leisure stroll around the area.
Outside the cafe (accommodation).
Uchiko is quiet and pleasant with friendly folks greeting you as they walk pass. It is full of traditional shop houses preserved from a hundred years ago.
Of course, it is also a great place for pictures!
At Hachiman Shrine in town.
Just now I mentioned about Jykoten served at breakfast, I loved it so much that I hunted for it!! Jyakoten is an Ehime specialty, which has a long history dated back to the Edo period. If you have a chance please try it!!
Unfortunately it requires fridge storage so it is hard to bring back as souvenir. I however bought a box at Matsuyama airport and brought it back to Singapore (via Haneda) for the danna. You can request for ice packs for longer storage during the flight 🙂
Uchiko Fresh Park Karari
One of the charming spots in Uchiko is Fresh Park Karari, a road station (Michi-no-eki) that is super popular with tourists from other prefecture. Apparently it is also chosen as one of the top 6 most scenic road station in the country!
You will first past through a local farmer’s market where fresh local vegetables are sold.
SOOOOO CHEAP ok!!! I once bought a zucchini from Meidiya at Liang Court for $9. ONE ZUCCHINI.
And then you will arrive at a hanging bridge called the Karari Bridge, above the Oda River.
Wait till you see the scenery!!
It is super beautiful omg… 😭
The water is clear until… you can also see the water glistening as the fishes swim through.
Next to the bridge is a lovely restaurant called Kakari Restaurant that is brightly lit by natural sunlight and… surrounded by beautifully refreshing greeneries.
No wonder it is called the Fresh Park. I felt very, very refreshed indeed.
Ishidatami is one of the smallest hamlets that forms Uchiko. Ishidatami prides itself for the Weeping Sakura in spring time, so you may want to time your visit!
One of the most famous spots in Ishidatami is this scene.
With an old arched bridge spanning a large pond, leading to Yuge Shrine (弓削神社).
This shrine is soooooo beautiful especially with rays of sunshine giving it a magical aura. It’s a perfect place to regain your peace. There’s a Torii gate in front of the shrine and if you look carefully, there are lots of tiny stones on top of the gate!! It is said that if you make a wish and throw a stone, if the stone lands on the Torii gate and stays there, your wish will come true.
Uchiko Machinami Kimono Experience
This was not originally in our itinerary. We were talking a walk in Yokaichi (八日市), the historic district in Uchiko and we saw a pamphlet on Kimono rental service at one of the handicraft artisan shophouses.
Usually you have to make an appointment, but we were sooooo lucky to be able to get a slot by walking in!!
The Kimono rental & fitting is 3,300 yen, and you can wear it to take a stroll in the traditional district of Uchiko!!
You can make your reservation at Uchiko Town Visitor’s Center (reception from 9:00-16:00), or call 0893443790.
The lovely hair accessories is made with washi by volunteers in old folks home, and it was only 200 yen each omg. You can purchase it as souvenir or to complement your kimono. ^^
Uchiko Town Visitor’s Center
If you need information or brochures in your language, you can make a visit to the Visitor’s Center.
Look!!! This is where we stayed in Uchiko with HomeAway the previous night!!
And this is where we will check in on this day haha.
If you are a fan of Ghibli, you will also be delighted to know that the center displays arts from Ghibli Studio staff!
Looks familiar? 😀 The covered bridge to Yuge Shrine!
This is painted by by the Ghibli crew when they were here for their stay. It looks super Ghibli doesn’t it?
Messages from the team.
Soba Restaurant -Shimohaga Tei
You have to have your lunch at this soba specialty shop.
I had my luxurious soba set that includes a bowl of Zaru soba, a mini mixed grain onigiri, prawn and vegetable tempura, simmered vegetables and ribs, a dish side dish, pickles and… super fluffy cheesecake served with a strawberry yougurt, all for…
It’s so ridiculous!!! This is why, you must come to the suburbs of Japan. Everything is extra affordable and of course delicious!
Uchiko-Za is a fully operational kabuki theater in the center of town, built over 100 years ago, and is all Uchiko residents’ pride. We were there just in time for a drum performance by the local junior high school students.
Don’t we just blend into the beautiful traditional Kabuki theatre? 😀
Visitors can enter Uchiko-za and explore the many trap doors and hidden passageways around the stage. Kabuki stages are known for their elaborate design, allowing for sudden dissapearances, dramatic entrances and the like. I was very overwhelmed, it was like I have entered a scene of the past in the olden era of Japan…
I absolutely love how beautiful the wooden ceiling is.
Waiting for the show to begin.
Haha do we look like we came from 100 years ago? 😀
Even if you are not a traditional cultural performance enthusiast, I guarantee that you will enjoy the performance just like I did.
The teenagers has put up such a fabulous show that at that point of time, I briefly considered getting Sakura to join the Taiko club in the future, because the girls (and guys, of course) are sooooooo kakkoii. Super.
I loved it. I loved it so much.
The finale left a lot of audience in tears because the graduating students gave their goodbye speech, and I, a visitor who had no relationship whatsoever with anyone there, were secretly wiping tears off my face omg.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable show, I was so glad and so lucky to be there.
Yokaichi Old Town
Uchiko town has been blessed with an ancient history district which has been lovingly restored to its former glory, and most of the buildings now serve as museums, souvenir stalls, craft shops, accommodation houses and charming teahouses. It is a little like Kyoto, minus the crazy tourist crowds. Walking in Yokaichi gives you one of the most authentic experience of stepping into the past of Japan history.
There are many interesting shophouses for you to explore. Some of the stores are even unmanned, and you buy the souvenirs by dropping the coins into a designated box. Trust is what connect the people together in this little town.
Ok this, is weird. Haha.
Apparently it’s been featured on national TV as one of the best health drinks!!
This cheerful Ojisan found this Egg Vinegar company!
The picturesque Yokaichi town.
So quietly peaceful.
Back to the Hachiman Shrine in kimono!
So yes, I would definitely recommend making a trip to Uchiko, book your Kimono rental and fitting and take a stroll and blend into the old world of elegance.
I mean… the entire town is yours. No waiting forever for tourists to walk out of the camera frame, (or bo bian just capture them all into your photos lol). No getting hit by other people’s selfie sticks in your face…
It was awesome.
Meanwhile, other things that you can also in Uchiko is Uchiko’s traditional art and craft such as hand-made Washi (Japanese paper), an absolutely luxurious residence called Kamihaga Residence originally resided by Uchiko’s most influential family, the Honhaga.
Day 2 HomeAway Accommodation
That night, we checked into the second HomeAway listing in Uchiko.
If you are planning your holiday soon, do check out HomeAway to book your vacation home.
Don’t forget to use the code “HOMEAWAYCHEESIE” for 8% off!!
The journey continues. Stay tuned!