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Goin’ Japanesque!

The Traditional Boat Houses of Ine: Historical Homes in a Waterside Village

In Kyoto Prefecture lies the lovely little town of Ine, often called “the Venice (City of Water) of Japan,” and in this article we’ll introduce some of the charms of this hidden locale, which has even been featured as a location on television and in cinema. Ref: Photo


About Ine’s Boathouses



A small fishing town of about 2,500 people in Kyoto Prefecture, the town of Ine is tucked between the mountains of the mainland and the Sea of Japan’s Wasaka Bay. To make the most of this narrow strip of land, the town employs a unique architectural method most commonly known as “Ine no Funaya,” where “funaya” means “boathouse.” Extending over five kilometers around the sheltered coastline, the town features around 230 funaya-style homes built along Ine Bay’s periphery, creating a landscape that’s earned a two-star rating in the Michelin Green Guide Japan. Also, in 2005 this area became the very first fishing village ever to be registered as an Important Preservation District for a Group of Traditional Buildings.


Architecture of Funaya Boathouses

Laundry drying by the water,

Both home and workplace for the people who live in them, the boathouses of Ine are built so close to the shoreline that they almost seem to float on the water. The bottom floors open onto the bay and act as “parking spaces” for the families’ fishing boats, while the floors above are used even now as a living space. Given that, when you go to visit the area please keep in mind these buildings are private property and don’t simply walk into one without permission.


Some of the funaya are run as small inns, and if you choose to stay at one you’ll be able to enjoy views like this first hand, looking out to the bay from within. For most of our readers, it’ll probably make for a completely novel experience!


Things to Do #1: See the sights from both land and sea

From a water taxi,

When you’re actually in Ine, you’ll be able to ride one of the water taxis here, so be sure to go out and enjoy the view from the water. It’s quite interesting to see the first-floor boat docks when empty, completely enclosed as they are. If you choose to stay at a funaya inn, you can actually have the water taxi drive right into the sheltered dock and drop you off. Later, when night falls, the gentle lapping of the waves is sure to lull you into peaceful sleep.

Additionally, the nostalgic village landscapes of a long-past Japan are still carefully preserved on shore, so even a simple stroll through the town is an engaging, wonderful experience.


Things to Do #2: Savor Japanese cuisine made with fresh local ingredients


Be sure to savor seafood plucked fresh from the ocean that very day if you stop in Ine. What’s more, you’ll be dining in the very locale it was caught! There’s something about the salt-smell of the sea that adds to the flavor of Japanese cuisine. Information: Map


So, what do you think? It’s interesting to discover that there’s a spot like this in Kyoto, isn’t it? This is just one of many examples of travel destinations in the prefecture that let you in on the diversity of a Kyoto that’s more than just temples and geisha.

Related: Yanagawa River Boat Tour: Atmospheric Trip Along the Castle Moat

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