Takehara, a city of traditional residences


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Takehara is a city with a preserved historical district, famous for its latticework and residences open to the public. There were also quite a few kura storehouses although not in the best of shape and shops with traditional crafts along the main street. I didn’t really find much information about visiting Takehara online, I planned to just show up, visit a couple of residences and the temple and see what I would find.
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From the station to the historical district the path is very well-signed, the manhole covers had arrows with directions pointing the way and I didn’t even have to check my map to make sure.
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I’m glad I started at Matsusaka Residence because it gave a good first impression. A woman saw me as I entered and ran up to a small table at the edge of a high elevated tatami room, serving as a counter. She showed me a combo ticket that included entrance to three other residences in the city for only 600 yen, so I agreed to that and started off with the first house. I was surprised at the cheap price, especially since all the residences were in good condition and some pretty big.
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Matsusaka Residence may have been one of my favourite simply because of the display at the entrance, with a few pieces of pottery on shelves and traditional shoes all in a line. I was surprised to see so many rooms of tatami. Granted, the house wasn’t that big, only three rooms in a row, but I hadn’t been to many similar ones to compare it to. There was an embroidered kimono in a showcase at the far end, many drawers and cupboards with other objects along the way. The woman at the counter probably lived on the upper level of the house and she was working in the garden outside. (There was also a separate little room for the old toilet that had a very scenic view of the garden and Fumeikaku Temple.)
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Continuing my way, the second residence I visited was much more modern (and western). It used to be home to Masataka and Rita, he was born in Takehara and later they founded Nikka Whisky in Hokkaido. The residence, today the Historical Museum, had mostly information and displays related to salt production. All of the signs were in Japanese so I didn’t understand much, but the pictures were enough to get an idea. At the exit a man asked me where I was from, when I said ‘Spain’ he answered with ‘Olympics!’. It seems like that is the most usual response from Japanese people when hearing about Spain.
Fumeikaku Temple

There was a filming crew making a tourism video of the town, a couple had to walk down the main street saying their lines and repeat for the next take. The Takehara travel map recommended visiting Shorenji, so I took a turn and visited the two buildings, but there wasn’t much to see. The whole town was a bit empty, actually, but at least that way I had the places all to myself.
Another residence, the biggest of the ones I visited.

The third residence is an old kura house hidden in the backstreets of Takehara, however other than some local art displays there wasn’t much to see inside. They had strong air-con inside, that was appreciated!
Canal on my way back to the station

I couldn’t leave without visiting Fumeikaku, a temple with views of the city. Most photos from Takehara are taken from here.
I never get tired of visiting traditional residences and seeing where people used to live! What other traditional places do you all like to visit?

Sam Lesmana