Sponsored by Ozu City
Ozu City in Ehime Prefecture, a much less crowded place on Shikoku Island, is known for its castle as well as its ancient cormorant fishing tradition. One must also admire the beautiful historic district and the great Japanese architectural work in the villa Garyu Sanso. To make the most of your time among such magnificent heritage, staying in Ozu itself is a good option, and in our case, we stayed in the famed Guesthouse Shiromachi, ideally located in the historic quartier.
The Shiromachi guesthouse is ideally located in the historic quartier in Ozu, making it easier to explore the city! Upon entry, do not forget to take off your shoes and change into some slippers, as is very often the case with traditional interiors in Japan. We were warmly welcomed by our host Nori, the owner of the place who also lives here. On the ground floor, a lounge and a small kitchen are available to guests.
In the living room, we were able to try kotatsu (a low Japanese table, covered with a heavy blanket) for the first time. It is a classic tea table concealing a heater underneath that is greatly appreciated in the winter. At the time, kotatsu was often the only heating system in Japanese homes. As it was cold and raining during our visit, there was nothing like trying it while enjoying the tea with mikan (Japanese mandarins) that were kindly offered by our host.
Displayed on the walls of the entrance and hallway, these old photos tell the story of Ozu’s evolution.
A Traditional Room with Tatami Mats and Futons
The rooms are upstairs. The decor of our room was typically Japanese with a tatami floor, tokonoma (decorative alcove) and the painted fusuma (sliding doors which redefine space within a room). When we arrived, the futons were already installed in front of a heater. In front of the window, shoji (the sliding doors consisting of washi paper over a frame of wood) protected us like a curtain. Generally there are no shutters in Japanese houses, so the first light of the day often wakes you up.
The shared bathroom and toilet are located on the ground floor.
Dinner at the Robatayaki Restaurant
We had dinner at an excellent restaurant in Aburaya, located only a few minutes walk from Guesthouse Shiromachi. In an old Edo-era ryokan, the Aburaya restaurant serves typical Japanese cuisine: the robatayaki (slow-grilled over hot charcoal.) At the center of the restaurant, Chef Asao Naganuma grills various dishes on the fire place, directly in front of the guests. Obviously we settled down at the counter in front of the chef!
We were lucky to have been given an English menu which displayed a wide variety of dishes. For starters, we savored some perfectly seasoned sashimi (raw fish). Then we selected an assortment of chicken and octopus skewers that were cooked in front of our very eyes and served directly by the chef using a ‘shamoji’, wooden spatula! You can eat it all with some Japanese rice.
- Lunch: 11:30 – 14:30 / Dinner: 17:00 – 23:00
- Closed on Monday
- Budget: 3,000 – 4,000 yen per person
- Address: 42 Ozu, Ozu-shi, Ehime 795-0012.
Access to Guesthouse Shiromachi
Shiromachi Guesthouse is conveniently located in the heart of Ozu’s old town, a 20-minute walk from Iyo-Ozu Station. It is only 50 kilometers southwest of Matsuyama. Ozu is easily accessible by train from the JR Yosan Line, which also stops by Uchiko Town. From Matsuyama, you can choose between a 37-minute express train or a 70-minute local train. All of Ozu’s attractions are within walking distance of the guesthouse.
By car, it takes about 55 minutes from Matsuyama.