image courtesy google maps
Waguya is a seemingly nondescript shop on a quiet residential street in Mie prefecture. With small, potted plants outside and several porcelain vases in the window, it would be easy to pass right by. But do so and you would be missing out on the secretive, cavernous interior that reveals itself only to those who decide to venture deep inside.
With roots dating back to the genroku era (1688 – 1704), Waguya has over 300 years of history as a wholesaler of arts and crafts like ukiyoe and pottery. The store is lined with pottery from the Edo, Meiji, and Taisho periods and has dealt in ceramics from Imari (Saga), Kutani (Ishikawa) and Banko (Yokkaichi) for generations. More of an antique shop than a pottery shop, you’ll also find nishiki-e, ukiyo-e, as well as old maps and old coins.
But even if you’re not in the market for antiques, a stroll through the shop’s cavernous interior is worth a visit. The shop measures 64 meters (210 ft) deep and combines several warehouses that have been tacked on over the years. Discontinued rail tracks that once carried a trolly even runs through the shop.
Waguya (google map) is open to the public and most of it is free of charge. There is a small section in the back that charges a small fee (100 yen) to view. The shop is a 10-min walk from Iseshi Station. It’s also a 15 min drive from the famous Ise Jingu Shrine.