Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Shikoku Autumn 2014 四国秋季之旅 - Uchiko-za (Uchiko Theater) 内子座

Visited 21.11.2014 (Fri)

Good old days. Reached Uchiko-cho in the afternoon and embarked on a half day expedition to explore this town. There were a couple of sightseeing spots on my list of places to visit and Uchiko-za was one of them. When we reached Uchiko-za, we were already drawn to its glamorous outlook - a multi storey wood constructed building with an intricately gabled, hipped and tiled roof. Just by looking at the exterior, you can feel that this is a building that speaks history and passion for art. Built way back in 1916, Uchiko-za hosted kabuki, puppet shows, drama and musical performances then, providing entertainment to the well-to-do locals of the once prosperous town which flourished in wax making and raw silk production. It was almost on its verge of being demolished, but thanks to efforts of the locals, it was restored to its original appearance in 1985. Now, there are arts and cultural performances held in this 650 seating capacity theater every now and then, about 60 days in a year. On days when there are no shows or events taking place in its premises, it serves as a museum for people to experience the beauty of this century old theater inside out. 

Hidden features! After purchasing the tickets, a guide was eagerly standing by at the entrance to introduce us to the different features in every corner of the theater. This was my first time visiting a local theater and I was extremely impressed by the creativity of mankind to incorporate various hidden mechanisms in a theater; with the objective to present a flawless and entertaining performances to the audience. Here are some noteworthy features to look out for:

Hanamachi on the left. Masueki in the foreground. Did you notice a four sided marking on the Hanamachi? That is the Suppon. 
- Hanamichi (花道), is a walkway leading from the stage to the back of the theater and it runs between the central and side seats. This is used for the dramatic entrances and exists for the actors and serves as platforms for actors to connect with the audiences.
- Masuseki (桝席), are the square box seats. In the past, the tickets were sold per box and each box can occupy up to four person.
- Suppon (すっぽん), is a man-powered platform found on the walkway which rises from 3 metres below. This is where Ninjas, ghosts and monsters appear from!

- Mawaributai (回り舞台), refers to the revolving center stage. This was used to change from one scene to another seamlessly in the past. Like the Suppon, this revolving stage was manually operated by man below the stage known as Naraku (奈落).

- Omuko (大向), refers to the gallery seats on the second floor of the theater, where regular customers and drama experts would sit. 

* Credits to the well detailed English information brochure which was handed over to us after we purchased the tickets. 


Uchiko-za (Uchiko Theatre) 内子座
〒791-3301 愛媛県喜多郡内子町内子2102番地
Operating hours: 0900 - 1630 hrs
Admission fee: 400 yen

How to get there?

(1) By foot. Approx 10 minutes walk from Uchiko JR Station.


Commemorative stamps:

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