Life inside this castle makes you feel like one of the leaders of the Middle Ages
Uzo Castle in Japan, which is located 6 kilometers from Matsuyama, the capital of Ehime Prefecture, and dates back to 1617, and it is among the remaining wooden castles in Japan.
Although converting this castle into a hotel is considered a great achievement, it is part of a bigger mission, which is to revive a rural city that is fading away.
A short overview of the history of the city:
The city of Ouzu is famous for its historical style of architecture in addition to the presence of this four-storey castle in it.
The city of Uzo was a Sasian center in the Edo era from 1603 to 1868, and later Edo flourished as it was famous for its wax industry and silk trade.
But Uzo’s fortunes, like many other rural cities in Japan, have declined dramatically in recent decades.
Since the 1950s, the city has witnessed a significant decrease in the population, from 79,000 in 1955 to about 42,000 in 2020.
With the decrease in the population, the closure of companies and the abandonment of homes comes, which increases the chances of young people leaving to find better possibilities, says the Spaniard, Diego Fernandez, director of the department of architecture and cultural research in the office of "Kita Management", a branch of the Office of Tourism and Town Planning.
In these difficult circumstances, many owners decided to demolish their old homes due to their lack of economic value.
"In most cases, the former homes are empty or used as car parks," says Fernandez, who has studied architecture in Japan and found Ouzou in 2012 while preparing for his PhD in "Water, Architecture and History". He added that there was a feeling among the local population that this trend should not continue and something must be done. "
Kita Management strives to preserve old homes "that have been disappearing at an alarming rate," and its team is sustainably repurposing those homes for the community.
The current Ouzou Castle has been rebuilt, with the newly opened accommodation option, which explains why officials allowed it to be converted into a hotel.
Japanese cultural property protection laws contain severe restrictions on alterations to heritage buildings, including many castle buildings in the country.
After the original Ouzou castle structure was demolished in 1888, the city decided to rebuild its icon, which was sorely missed during the 1990s from rubble, with wood instead of concrete.
Fernandes explains that building with wood is many times more expensive, and the building code after the war did not allow the construction of wooden structures with a height of more than 13 meters, noting that the height of the castle "Ouzou" is 19 meters.
After years of pressure on national ministries, the city of Ouzou received approval to build with timber, and rebuilding was completed in 2004.
The castle of Ouzou opened its doors to hotel guests in July, allowing guests to enjoy the castle building in private after the gate was closed to visitors at 5 pm.
For the first year, only 30 stays are permitted, with up to six guests allowed per stay.
The price of spending the night for two guests includes the amount of one million yen, or 9 thousand and 469 dollars, with the amount of 100 thousand yen, or 946 dollars, for each additional guest.
Residence inside the castle :
Since there are no shops, toilets, or air conditioning in the castle, a luxurious bathroom and an attached hall have been built in a hidden corner for hotel guests.
On arrival, guests, who can choose to wear traditional kimonos and warrior costumes from the Middle Ages, are greeted by the sound of trumpets and the waving of flags. Then they are welcomed with a traditional dance performance, known as "kagura", which is registered as a popular cultural property of Japan.
Dinner is served in one of the four towers in the castle complex, followed by a session to watch the moon with poetry.
It is worth noting that the castle towers are original, as they have survived the past four centuries.
After spending the night in the complex, the next morning, guests have breakfast in a historic cliffside villa that houses a café overlooking the Heiji River.