Gojo is a small city in Nara Prefecture, about an hour and a half from Osaka by train、and is on the way to the famous monastery-mountain Mt. Koya. Well-off the beaten tourist track, it gets few visitors, but if you’re ever in the area, you might want to stop off and see the Shinmachi area, a semi-preserved area with a lot of nice old buildings.
The area has 77 buildings which have been preserved from the Edo Period (1603 to 1868) and 19 from the Meiji Period (1868-1912). It used to part of the Kishuu Kaido, a highway that ran between Wakayama and Osaka. Around 1960, however, a highway was built nearby, and people gradually stopped coming to the area.
In 1990, residents’ group decided to start preserving the area, but, unfortunately, it seems to be a bit of a half-hearted effort. On their homepage, they proudly point out that they’ve gotten the electric company to paint the telephone poles the same color as the buildings.
Shinmachi could be a great attraction if it was preserved a little better, or if there were more tourist facilities, but as it is, I’d only recommend it if you are a real architecture buff or if you were passing through on the way to Mt. Koya and wanted to stop off somewhere for half an hour or so.
Take the Nankai Koya Line from Nankai Namba Station. Change at Hashimoto to the JR Wakayama Line bound for Nara and get off at Gojo Station. It takes about an hour and 20 minutes and costs 840 yen. The Wakayama Line runs only twice an hour, so there might be a wait at Hashimoto. The Shinmachi area is about 15 minutes walk from the station (click map below for route).