The Modern and Traditional: Kiya Ryokan in Uwajima
Kiya Ryokan is a unique kind of Ryokan where the modern and the traditional come together and is a Ryokan experience unlike any other! It is located in the heart of Uwajima a city in the south of Ehime prefecture. At the Kiya Ryokan in Uwajima you have the chance to stay in a Ryokan that is built in the hatago style where literary greats and even politicians such as former Prime Minister Tsuyoshi Inukai have stayed.
Kiya is a long wooden two storey building that can house up to 10 people making it a very economical choice for groups. Though parts of the old Ryokan remain the Ryokan has been filled with several new features that give it a traditional yet modern feel. The Ryokan was closed due to lack of business in 1995 but has since had these new features installed from a renovation that took place in 2012 by a group of architects and designers in a project to revive the building.
There are the glass floor panels that overlook the first floor allowing guests to look down into the rooms below and vice versa. This gives guests a very different perspective when walking around the rooms. (Slightly scary to step on at first you get used to looking down at your feet and seeing the rooms below!). There are also LED lights that are controlled by remote installed in some of the rooms allowing the rooms to be basked in hues of blue or purple adding an atmospheric air to the place.
When you arrive there is someone to explain the Ryokan and the different rooms to you as well as the buildings history. This is exclusive rented accommodation and you are left with the entire house completely to yourself! Because it can hold such a large number of people this Ryokan is ideal for large parties. Even though there is no dinner served, there is a complimentary breakfast of fresh mikan juice and local bread in the mornings.
As for eating out there are many options in Uwajima including a small Izakaya round the corner from the Ryokan that serves up great local food from the area. A great spot to hit up afterwards is an American style bar located not too far away from the Izakaya, called Red Boots. It`s a relaxed and laid back bar with American themed decor making it an ideal place to go for a couple of drinks after dinner.
The small Zen like courtyard garden and the modern bathrooms combine traditional and modern styles perfectly. The bathrooms are all fitted with showers and sinks that have a modern design. There is also a bathroom that is set out in the onsen (hot spring) style.
Located next to the Ryokan is a small shop selling local products from the area and is definitely worth a look. Also a must see on any trip to Uwajima is Uwajima castle itself.
A 20 minute walk uphill, it is a beautiful castle located on a hill that gives you great picturesque views of the city below.
A unique attraction in the city is bull fighting and Uwajima is home to the bull fighting convention which takes place five times a year. It is a very popular event in the city and an all-purpose dome was built near the station just for the event. This is one of the major events in the city’s calendar and there are several parades and festivities that take place throughout the city.
Uwajima is a small city with lots to offer, it`s unique Ryokan, historical sightseeing spots and friendly people make this city a different kind of destination!
Address:2-8-2 Honmachioute, Uwajima-Shi, Ehime-Ken 798-0041, Japan
Website (in English): http://kiyaryokan.com/en/
Access: 80 mins. by special express JR Yosan Line to JR Matsuyama Station. 15 mins. walk from JR Uwajima Station.