Christianity has a rich history in Okayama Prefecture and the religion continues to have adherents to this day. This museum is a true exhibition of 19th century Americana with its rustic elegance that is bathed in simplicity. Now a museum and historic artifact, a visit to this authentic place of worship brings a sense of the interconnection of spirituality around the world.
Takahashi Christian Church was established in 1889, and was the first in Okayama. The initial missionaries arrived in Takahashi in 1879, and the community grew after the arrival of Joseph Neesima, who founded Doshisha University.
The church, designed by Ihei Yoshida of Imabari City in Ehime Prefecture, was Takahashi’s first Western-style building. Later, in 1953, the bell tower was completed to add the finishing touch to its picture postcard-like appeal.
Notable members of this church include Shigeko Fukunishi, who founded the first college for women in Okayama Prefecture, and Kousuke Fukuoka, who was a pioneer social welfare activist in Takahashi City.
Although it primarily functions as a museum, the Takahashi Christian Church welcomes all to attend services which are held throughout the year.
As the church is only a 15 minute walk from Takahashi Station, you will have an excellent opportunity to experience the city center on your way to the historic landmark. The city library is right next to the station and would be the best first stop.
The former homes of members of the samurai class are also part of the city’s cultural zone and well worth a visit for a look into its feudal past. It is also a great way to appreciate the connection between this section of Takahashi and the formidable mountain-perched Bitchu Matsuyama Castle.
About the Area
Takahashi City is a place that requires several days to even scratch the the surface of the diversity of its culture, landscape and people. As the city center is easily accessible by train that is the best place to start.
Right next to the station is the Takahashi City Library, which was conceived as a gathering place for the 21st century by town planners. An overwhelming success, the space draws locals and visitors from across a great distance.
Central Takahashi is also the home of the historic district, which includes the former residences of the samurai who served the lord of Bitchu Matsuyama Castle.
The castle occupies the highest elevation of any in Japan and is a challenging hike from the bottom of its access road. Actually reaching the castle gate requires a relatively steep climb up steps that have been set into the mountainside.
There are many options when its comes to getting outside the city but if you have limited time Fukiya Furusato Village and Nariwa are good choices. Fukiya is a historic bengara (iron oxide) mining town where the reddish-brown pigment takes on many forms. Nariwa is location of the Tadao Ando designed Nariwa Museum of Art.
Access: From JR Okayama Station,take the JR Hakubi Line to JR Bitchu Takahashi Station. It is about a 15 minute walk from JR Takahashi Station to the church.
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