Shikoku Mura

Shikoku Mura


2018.03.08

NAVITIME TRAVEL EDITOR

Shikoku Mura
  • Shikoku may be the smallest of Japan’s four main islands in both area and population, but its historical significance is considerable. One of the best ways to quickly get a handle on the development of any culture is to look at the buildings it has put up, and with this in mind Takamatsu’s Shikoku Mura attraction has brought together over 30 original constructions from across Shikoku’s four prefectures (Kagawa, Ehime, Kochi and Tokushima), and spanning the eras of Edo (1603-1868) through to Taisho (1912-1926). No less than four of the buildings therein have been designated Important Cultural Properties by the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs.

    Shikoku Mura

    Shikoku Mura

    Arriving at Shikoku Mura, located at the foot of the Yashima Plateau, you encounter a piece of history before even paying the 1,000 admission fee: the small building used as a ticket booth was originally located in Kochi where fisherman would gather inside to drink sake and shoot the breeze.

    Shikoku Mura

    Shikoku Mura

    From there you pass into Shikoku Mura itself by crossing a deceptively rickety-looking bridge made from wood held together with strong mountain-grown vine. This is a replica of a type of bridge once built in Tokushima Prefecture’s remote Iya Valley, where only a single remaining original example now remains. Though highly authentic-looking, Shikoku Mura’s replica reassuringly adds steel cables to ensure a safety that was lacking when the design was first used in the 12th century.

    Shikoku Mura

    Shikoku Mura

    From here on the exhibits are almost entirely buildings transported from their original locations, then painstakingly reassembled in Shikoku Mura’s expansive 50,000 sq. meter grounds (Mura incidentally is Japanese for ‘village’). Just the other side of the aforementioned bridge is a thatched-roof kabuki stage originally built for the enjoyment of Shodoshima island farmers: a nice reminder that this seemingly rarefied art form began as entertainment for the common people. The stage still hosts occasional kabuki performances, with the audience perched outdoors on curved amphitheater-style seating.

    Shikoku Mura

    Shikoku Mura

    Architecture arose of course out of man’s basic need for a roof over his head, and Shikoku Mura comprehensively shows how the island’s people have housed themselves over the centuries. Thatched-roof residences once inhabited by farming and fishing families give way to less rustic, more overtly ‘designed’ homes, as lifestyles change with the advent of industrialization towards the end of the long period covered by Shikoku Mura.

    Shikoku Mura

    Shikoku Mura

    When it comes to working life though, this attraction is mainly all about the old school of manual labor. An assortment of transplanted workshops and storehouses were formerly dedicated to the manufacture of staple goods including rice, soy sauce, sugar and cotton. A rice warehouse from the Marugame region has extra-thick walls to protect against both fires and hungry rodents, while the premises of a Hiketa soy sauce maker contains the original vats and presses.

    Shikoku Mura

    Shikoku Mura

    Elsewhere the effect of Japan embracing Western-style modernization in the late 19th century is most evident in the appearance of Meiji (1868-1912) and Taisho-era brick buildings. Highlights among these include a fire station from Shodoshima, and the Nabeshima lighthouse keeper’s residence designed by a British architect.

    Shikoku Mura

    Shikoku Mura

    Features built around Shikoku Mura’s eclectic collection of buildings include stone bridges and a waterfall, while the architecturally contemporary Shikoku Mura Gallery brings you swiftly back to the present day. Designed by the renowned Tadao Ando (also responsible for the stunning Chichu Art Museum on nearby Naoshima), this annex was added in 2002. Inside can be seen a selection of art from the collection of Shikoku Mura’s owner, ranging from ancient Japanese sculptures to Renoir paintings (an additional fee is charged for gallery admission, which may vary for special exhibitions).

    Shikoku Mura open-air museum
    rating

    4.0

    168 Reviews
    place
    Kagawa Pref. Takamatsushi Yashimanakamachi 91
    phone
    0878433111
    opening-hour
    [Apr.-Oct.] 8:30-18:00 (unti…
    Shodoshima Island
    place
    Kodo-cho, Shodojima-cho, Shodo-gun, Kagawa prefecture

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