Takahashi City is a wonderful castle town with a population of around 34,000 located in western Okayama Prefecture. Despite its size, the city is full of things to do and places to visit. Historical, natural, cultural, spiritual and artistic sites abound.
A good place to start a visit to the city is the downtown historic district which includes two former samurai residences a temple, a traditional merchant house and two folk museums. Located at the center of town, these sites are all within walking distance.
The samurai residences were occupied by the warlords who served the lord of Bitchu-Matsuyama castle. There is a small entrance fee for both residences but it is well worth it to get a glimpse of what daily life would have been like in that era. Besides the splendid architecture there are elegant gardens to be enjoyed.
Raikyuji is a Zen Buddhist temple that is open to the public and charges a nominal entrance fee. You can spend the day basking in the minimalist rock gardens as you ponder a Japanese ko-an.
The highlight of a visit to Takahashi City may be Bitchu-Matsuyama Castle. It is unique in its originality, location and age in comparison to other castles in Japan. Resting atop a mountain, it commands an amazing view of the city testifying to its past life as a defensive post. It is one of only twelve original castles in the country and has the highest elevation of any castle in Japan. All original parts of the castle have been designated as Important Cultural Properties by the National Government.
On the cultural side there is the Nariwa Museum which exhibits modern art as well as ancient artifacts. It even has a collection of ancient Egyptian pieces. The Manga (comics) Museum has a massive collection of Japanese as well as foreign historical and contemporary comics.
If you want to get a real taste of old Japan then make your way to Fukiya Furusato Village, where the reddish color of bengara dominates the landscape. Visitors often feel as if they have walked into a Akira Kurosawa movie. This historical district has been designated as an Important Cultural Property and is an unusual example of a traditional red iron oxide mining town.
Art and history are at your fingertips in Takahashi City!