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).
It would have been nice if they could have gotten rid of the telephone poles altogether.
Half-hearted indeed. What they really ought to have done is campaigned to have the lines put underground, like they are in so many major cities elsewhere in the world.
Sorry to hear that there’s not much in the way of tourist facilities – by which, do you mean to say that there are relatively few shops, cafes, “museum houses” that a tourist can explore the inside of to learn more about Edo period life? If it’s pretty much just about walking around, looking at the outsides, taking a few photos, and calling it done, then I suppose, sadly, it might have to be passed over.
But thanks much for posting about it, introducing me (us) to this place, and for the great photos!
Yes, in some ways its good because there aren’t thousands of souvenir shops, but there are just one or two building that are open in the public and they look like you could breeze through them in ten minutes.