Takehara City has the rather romantic literal meaning in Japanese of bamboo-field city. Form doesn't quite follow name, but the area's outskirts do have large bamboo forests. Takehara developed, like Onomichi, as an important focus of sea traffic on the Seto Inland Sea. From the Muromachi period to the Edo period, salt industries thrived in the area. Today, it is a small sedate coastal city with around 28,000 people living in the area.
The city's official tree was picked in 1978 and is (you may have guessed it) bamboo. The bamboo connection is played up by the city; bamboo is planted through out the city and it features heavily in the city insignia (shown to the top-right). The bamboo circle shows the harmony of the people and three bamboo-grass plains the city was built upon are represented by the bamboo leaves. The city's flower is the "tidy and elegant featured" plum blossom.
Takehara is nicknamed "little Kyoto in Aki", but it has become a little hard to see the connection in modern times. If you're in the area then it's well worth a look at the historic district. A fair number of domestic tourists take tours around the area and sample the local specialty foods, bamboo shoots and Japanese sake.
Creative works that showcase the historic district has fed a surge in visitors. Tamayura (たまゆら) is a slice of life anime and manga series about a group of high school girls in a photography club in Takehara. Posters from the series that had its first release in 2010 can be found around town. Massan, a NHK television drama, showcased the district as well.
Historic Preservation Area
Takehara's main tourist attraction in the city is the historic preservation area. It takes around 15 minutes to walk through town from JR Takehara Station to the area. While only a moderate size, the collection of cobbled paths and heritage buildings in the preservation area is quite charming.
There are historical buildings, temples, shrines and several museums in the preservation area. There is even a museum devoted entirely to sake, Japanese rice wine. Almost all of the displays and pamphlets are in Japanese only.
In the heart of the historical area, is the Zen Buddhist compound, Saihouji. Originally built in 1560, it burned to the ground in 1602 and was rebuilt soon after. The main building was restored in 1702 and it has evolved since then with parts being added over many years.
The Saihouji compound is up on top of a long flight of stairs. It faces out towards Takehara and the sea. The highlights are its wooden gate at the top of the hill, large bell and main building. The view from the main building's platform of the city is very nice.
One stop east of Takehara (Tadanoumi Station) on the the local JR train is Mount Kurotaki. It is 266 meters tall and takes around 40 minutes to climb. You can see a panoramic view of the Seto Inland Sea and the town below from the summit. Hardy townspeople in the Seto Inland Sea Area are fond of climbing up the tallest mountain around to see the first sunrise of the year and Mount Kurotaki is Takehara's designated destination.
Takehara has a number of specialty foods. The most famous are its soba which is served on a blazing hot roof shingle and its sake (Japanese rice wine). A number of places serve Takehara's soba dish and there are plenty of museums dedicated to sake making in Takehara. Be sure to visit one of the sake shops and sample (if you aren't driving) some of Takehara's sake.
Takehara City is located midway along the coast of Honshu in Hiroshima Prefecture. It is over an hour and a half by train (Sanyo Line) or bus from Hiroshima City. From Hiroshima Station, it takes over an hour and twenty minutes on the Kure line train to reach Takehara Station. There are ferries to and from destinations across the Seto Inland Sea in Takehara City and Tadanoumi.
Posted: March 6, 2011 Updated: February 19, 2015