All About Japan

The Venice of Japan

| Coast , Kyoto

Located on the shore of Ine Bay in Kyoto Prefecture is a group of 230 funaya, or boat houses. Known as Ine no Funaya, or the Boat Houses of Ine, the wooden buildings are constructed on the water’s edge and feature garage-like openings that act as boat moorings for their residents.

Sometimes referred to as the “The Venice of Japan,” the townscape is so unique it’s been designated as a protected area of “important traditional buildings.”

The unique houses were built out of necessity to maximize use of a narrow strip of land between the sea and the mountains. This style of wooden architecture is possible here as there’s little tidal movement, and the quiet cove provides protection from storms and sea swells.

The two-story houses feature living quarters upstairs and a bay on the ground floor with direct access to the water and space for a boat and equipment.

You can see how the space is used for drying fish, maintaining nets and making preparations for fishing trips. With its cluster of wooden huts, the area is breathtakingly picturesque. While it was once primarily a fishing town, more and more boathouses are now being converted into beautiful lodgings for visitors.