Kintai Bridge
Kintai Bridge
Honke Morimotoya
Honke Morimotoya

A house for rent perfect for many experiences in Iwakuni, such as cultural exchange

Honke Morimotoya

Enjoy renting out a machiya, a Japanese traditional house and shop, built in 1867 during the Edo period. Please enjoy a fanciful time here in the house where you can experience the atmosphere of Japan’s past and the history of Iwakuni.


About Honke Morimotoya

Reverence for the “landscape” inheriting the tradition ——Passing down the landscape of the castle town of Iwakuni to the next 150 years

At one point in my life, the idyllic space of my family home where I used to spend my time when I was a child started overlapping with the idea of Alex Kerr, whom I respect. The idea is that “there are landscapes you just should not destroy.” This is the reason why I chose to renovate the house I inherited from my father and preserve it for the future.

The name Honke Morimotoya is the family’s last name as well as the name of the house and shop that has been passed down for generations.

half shoji
This is an okuzashiki, a living room. Enjoy the Japanese zen garden from half shoji, half glass doors.

History of Honke Morimotoya

Our family’s first generation in Kawanishi, Iwakuni City is Magoemon Morimotoya. Tracing the family tree from records stored in a temple, I found out that Magoemon’s mother had passed away in September, 1716. Honke Morimotoya has been passed down to the present.

Morimotoya was in the business of rice, ayu sweetfish, and river crabs in the wholesale trade, as well as the making of Japanese paper and the brewing of miso, shoyu, and sake. I am the fifteenth generation Morimotoya, counting from Magoemon.

Entrance floor
Space created by the traditional white plastered wall and black pillars
(* The reddish black is from red ocher of a traditional paint.)

Five years to renovate and rebuild the house from the end of Edo period

My renovation project to preserve this house built in 1867 started in 2017. The carpenters studied architecture from the end of Edo period, which is when this house was built, and gathered the necessary wood to rebuild the house. For example, all the pillars used are uneven, but combined beautifully by balancing themselves just like how it was done in the Edo period when there was no large machinery. Please enjoy the space of a Japanese traditional house filled with Japanese culture.

Iwakuni and Japanese
Traditional Houses

Nishiki River and Kintai Bridge

Nishiki River runs through the middle of Iwakuni City. The calm and clear water of the river is so beautiful that it is a perfect place for the local children to play in the water. The river is also famous for its fish. The ayu sweetfish that fills many souvenir shops is counted as one of the specialties of Iwakuni even in a book from over 100 years ago. Upstream on the river is a brewery of Japanese sake. This is because the water from the subterranean river is soft and perfect for brewing sake.

Kintai Bridge

The bridge with five arches over Nishiki River is Kintai Bridge (錦帯橋, Kintai-kyō). The bridge is about 15 minutes on foot from Honke Morimotoya. This bridge was built about 350 years ago by Hiroyoshi Kikkawa, the third feudal lord of the Iwakuni Domain, which was created in the Edo period. At that time, the bridge connected the mountain side, where a castle and houses belonging to high-class samurai were located, to the town side across the river, where lower-class samurai and peasants lived.

Why do you think they built such a unique bridge in Iwakuni?

It is hard to imagine from seeing calm Nishiki River on a sunny day, but it has actually been known as a flood-prone river as well. When Hiroyoshi Kikkawa became a feudal lord, the bridge that was over Nishiki River was destroyed and washed away every time it rained heavily. Hiroyoshi Kikkawa wished to build a bridge that would not be washed away somehow, and came up with the idea of connecting wooden arches on top of huge stone walls that could withstand the current. Kikkawa himself led the design and construction to complete this bridge.

The beautiful form―in fact there is no other bridge with the same structure in the world―caught everyone’s attention nationwide, with the famous Hokusai depicting the bridge in ukiyo-e, Japanese art. There is even an anecdote of a princess who wanted to see the famous bridge so much that she tricked a government official.

About machiya, Japanese traditional houses and shops

Honke Morimotoya

Honke Morimotoya is a Japanese traditional house built at the end of Edo period.

Stepping foot into the house, people are usually surprised at how deep the house goes. The front of the house facing the street is rather narrow with a depth many times greater than the front width. This is a common basic characteristic to machiya, Japanese traditional houses with attached shops.

Why did machiya come to take a shape like this?

In Japanese, machi of machiya means town area, and ya means a house and attached shop.
As the name represents, a machiya is a house and shop built in the town area. Most of the machiya that are still left in the current era are post Edo period, and they have become common in Japan as a form of merchant house in castle towns and post station towns.

Machiya are lined up in an area in a castle town.

Currently, next to Honke Morimotoya is a parking lot with no buildings, but at the time when the house was built, there were many shops facing the street. The area next door to the right, which is now a parking lot, as well as to the left and across the street, were all lined with machiya with many shops selling all kinds of goods. There were no cars at that time. There must have been a number of people and horses passing by.

I hope you were able to imagine many machiya packed facing the street. As the town developed, so did the number of shops along the street, but the terrain would not change, so they had to limit the width one shop used. The feudal lord, who managed the town, pre-determined site allotments, or defined division lines, for the land so that the entire town could be well utilized, and imposed taxes on merchant houses according to the width of their storefront. This is one of the reasons why many machiya lined up in plots with a narrow front and long depth.

Machiya characteristics unique to Iwakuni

There used to be a riverboat, just like the one in the photo, in the open ceiling space on top of the pillars above the corridor (doma) in Honke Morimotoya. This was a preparation for the occasional floods of Nishiki River.

When the house was flooded, they were able to put important family valuables on board and escape by boat.


About 150 years ago when this house was built, Honke Morimotoya was in the wholesale business of rice and brewing of miso, shoyu, and sake.
I imagine that the people passing by must have checked out the newly built machiya with delight. I imagine many business partners and patrons came to the shop from early in the morning. Now, after 150 years, I appreciate all the customers visiting us in the past.
If you could just step away from the concerns of the present for a moment and experience the amazing space of a good old machiya, I would be delighted.

1. Accommodation

  • The house has underfloor heating and a set of amenities comparable to that of a high-end hotel. The house can be rented out for private use as an accommodation (use of entire house) by 1 to 6 people. Please see the following airbnb link for more details.

    For guests staying during autumn and winter

    The house is airy and has a high ceiling, but there are air conditioners and underfloor heating in each room, so you will be able to enjoy your stay comfortably. Your preparations to stay at the house should be exactly the same as if you were staying at a regular hotel.

    See details on airbnb

    You can also contact us directly from this homepage.

2. As a venue for events

  • Announcement of a new product, product exhibitions
  • Photo shoot

3. As a place for meetings or banquets

  • Meetings, training, seminars, training camps
  • Conferences, banquets, dinner meetings

4. As a place for workshops or lessons

  • Learning the history of Iwakuni
  • Tea ceremonies, Japanese flower arrangement, Go, Haiku, calligraphy, copying Buddhist scriptures
  • Lessons for drawing, singing, piano, yoga, cooking, knitting, sewing, kimono dressing, English conversation, etc.
photo: Rooms


The doors on the entrance side can be opened pretty generously, which is a remnant of the arrangements from when the house was still also a shop.

photo: The long corridor, doma


The long corridor, doma, where you can walk with shoes on, goes straight to the end of the house through the courtyard from the entrance.

photo: Japanese zen garden


The courtyard has the style of a Japanese zen garden.

photo: Iyashirochi


The corridor space between the room and entrance is iyashirochi. High-quality bamboo charcoal has been buried all the way down to 1.2 meters underground to purify the soil as well as the entire space above. Iyashirochi is said to bring good luck and health since the old days. Please enjoy the moment when your ordinary switches into extraordinary.

photo: Nagahibachi


Nagahibachi is an old style heating system, which can also be used to boil hot water and cook. Charcoal is inserted in a container in the middle to use it.

photo: Hand pump

Hand pump

The well from the old days is left as is. Try pumping it with your child to get the water out of the well!

photo: Kitchen

Professional kitchen

There is a dining table with seating capacity for eight people on the courtyard side, so you can use this room as a dining area as well. Please see the following for kitchen specs.

photo: Dining table

Rental Fees and Floor Plan

You can bring in lunch boxes or deliveries are also available for meetings and banquets. Please consult us when you make a reservation.

(for six people)
Hourly 3,300 yen/hour
Half a day
Until 1:00p.m. /After 2:00p.m.
13,200 yen
Day use 19,800 yen
* The fees will be adjusted depending on the purpose of use and the number of people.
Facility and equipment Capacity Maximum of about 30 people (Depending on the use. Please consult us.)
Furniture Table for eight people, table for ten people
Kitchen 1 x professional gas stove with high fire power, 2 x portable gas stove for use on the table, 2 x IH stove, a commercial under counter refrigerator and freezer
Floor plan

Explore Iwakuni

Iwakuni City is located at the eastern edge of Yamaguchi Prefecture and faces the warm Seto Inland Sea.
It is close to Hiroshima and there are many places to go for sightseeing.

The town of Iwakuni was developed as a castle town of the Iwakuni Domain during the Edo period. Kintai Bridge over Nishiki River and some machiya are the remnants from this era.

The coastal area has been garnering attention as an industrial area since the modern era. The area experienced cutting-edge development, including the first railroad line in western Japan.

Iwakuni is a home to Ichisuke Fujioka (1857-1918), who was the founder of Tokyo Denki, a predecessor of Toshiba, and dedicated to the spread of electricity and lights in Japan, as well as Chiyo Uno (1897-1996), a writer.

The grave of Chiyo Uno. Bottom right on the top row is Chiyo Uno’s house.

Access and Reservation


1-19-27 Kawanishi, Iwakuni, Yamaguchi 741-0082

  • [by car] 20 min. from Iwakuni Kintaikyo airport
  • [by car] 15 min. from Shin-Iwakuni station (Sanyo Shinkansen)
  • [walk] 1 min. from Kawanishi bus stop (Iwakuni Bus)
  • [walk] 3 min. from Kawanishi station (Gantoku Line, Nishikigawa Seiryu Line)

Reservation/Contact Us

Reservations are recommended at least a week prior to your planned stay dates.

When you contact us via email, please specify your name (organization name), address, phone number, and desired stay duration.