Intro: Welcome to Yatakiya


The city of Nara, just south of Kyoto, is a famed spot on many a tourist’s Japan itinerary. Yet nearby, other hidden treasures abound. Located on the Yamato plateau in Nara Prefecture, southeast of Nara city, lies the municipality of Uda. Surrounded by mountains and brimming with shrines and nature, it is a perfect place to immerse yourself in a less-explored side of Japan; and there is no better base than Yatakiya, a renovated 300-year old farmhouse, an encapsulation of the rich history and culture of the area.

On the drive to Yatakiya, as you gaze out the window, the road rises and falls through dark green forests, past tucked-away roadside shrines and verdant streams. Then, the landscape opens up, slightly, as a cosy valley appears. Nestled between forests, rice paddies roll down a hillside, dotted on both sides with minka, traditional Japanese homes with gabled or thatched roofs. Looking up the valley, a particularly gorgeous building complex stands out, perched just on the edge of the forest. Along a slope, a stand of young, vibrant bamboo waves a welcome in the wind, while an abundant vegetable garden spreads out below.

After pulling into the driveway and ducking under the little noren curtain at the entranceway, the sliding door opens to reveal a warm, calm, spacious living area. Depending on the season, the reception area may have a display of hinamatsuri dolls, or perhaps a delicate ikebana flower arrangement of sakura (cherry blossom) taken from the trees growing at the east of the building complex.

After taking your shoes off, you are led to your room through the main living space, past interlocking sliding doors and walls that allow for endless configurations. The tatami-mat flooring throughout the room emphasises the space’s flexibility; suitable for sitting cross-legged to enjoy a cup of matcha, or for lounging back, it is a symbol of the freedom of traditional Japanese interiors. Reaching a corridor, you can spot the tsuboniwa, the small courtyard garden, in which stands a 100-year old lantern carved from local stone.

Glancing up at the old wooden beams, if you look carefully, you might spot a faded sticker from an old robot anime tucked away in a corner. The furniture and objects are nearly entirely assembled from the owners’ family, each with a story to tell. A beautiful ceremonial plate, decorated with plum blossom and swallows, or a wooden table equipped with hidden drawers, camouflaged by the geometric pattern; Yatakiya thrums with living, personal histories.

Tired from the journey there, maybe you will retire to your private bath, after selecting a blend of scents from local medicinal herbs. Maybe you will stroll the garden, and see the herbs themselves growing as green buds in dark, fertile soil. Perhaps a trip to the little sauna, to sweat out the stresses of everyday life, or a wander to the shrine further down the valley. However you may choose to relax, you can rest assured of the unique blend of history, homeliness, and luxury that makes this old farmhouse so special. Welcome to Yatakiya.


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★Intro: Welcome to Yatakiya




Surrounding Area: Landscape

Surrounding Area: History

Surrounding Area: Community and Culture


This text is written by Gabriela Mancey-Jones who is studying in Japan at the invitation of the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation, through interviews conducted in February 2024. She is looking to specialize in cultural anthropology with a Japan focus.