Streets of Takehara
At the foot of a mountain located east of the Honkawa River, which runs
through the streets of east Takehara, are concentrated many old houses remaining
as they were in the early modern times.
Beginning in 1646, they attempted to reclaim land along the shore, but
realizing that the salt-rich land was not fit for farming, the people of Shimoichi
invited specialists in salt production from Ako (now Hyogo Prefecture), and
succeeded in transforming the land to salt pans. In the middle of the Edo period,
Takehara sold 240,000 to 280,000 hyo (1hyo=60kg) of salt annually, most of
which was sent to cities in northern Japan and Edo (now Tokyo). The economy
prospered as a result of their successful salt industry, and Takehara's popular
culture emerged and flourished, producing many famous intellectuals, including
Eastward and a little higher up the mountain stand many Buddhist temples.
On the streets of Takehara, there are old houses of merchants and scholars'
houses, wells used for brewing, the Takehara City Special Preservation District
Center and the Takehara Museum of Historical and Ethnic Materials.
The white-walled houses of Takehara with their tiled roofs were built during
the Edo period with all the advanced techniques available at that time. The
Japanese government has designated these streets as an area for preservation of
important traditional buildings and streets in an attempt to preserve and
implement wise usage of historically valuable buildings.
Streets which take you back to the Edo period (Photograph taken circa 1994)
The Museum of Historical and Folk Materials was originally the house of the scholar Doseki Shioya and later transformed into a school by his disciples, Shunsui Rai and Shunpu Rai. The school was opened in 1793 and named the "Takehara-Shoin" by Shunpu, who was then one of the teachers at the school. The building burned down in 1813 but was rebuilt in 1871. Since then it has been used for a library.