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Tondabayashi Jinaimachi

Tondabayashi Jinaimachi

Tondabayashi Jinaimachi

Recently, I have been spending a lot of time going around Osaka Prefecture to places I haven’t visited in order to evaluate and collect information for my upcoming website, Osaka Insider. One of the places I visited was Tondabayashi City’s jinaimachi (寺内町). For you non-Japanese-speakers out there, that means “temple town,” and that describes the historical origins of this site. Its development centered on Koshoji Betsuin, the temple partially pictured above, which was established in the 16th century. From the 17th century (the Edo Period) onward, it developed into a rural trade town and lost much of its religious character, instead taking on the merchant culture seen most clearly in Osaka at the time. Many of the mansions are preserved today, and the jinaimachi’s urban landscape has changed little since that time, making it a truly valuable cultural asset to Osaka Prefecture.

While there, I was able to tour two merchant residences, the huge Sugiyama residence and the somewhat more modest Katsuma residence. The Katsuma residence was actually my favorite, as it still had people living inside and retained a more homey atmosphere–sitting in the guest room drinking tea while looking out at the garden on a hot summer day was quite pleasant. The impressive Sugiyama residence, on the other hand, was set up more like a museum (and rightly so). Both residences are very close to each other, and both deserve a visit.STP60488

Very few people were interested in visiting Tondabayashi, despite it being relatively good weather and a Saturday. It is one of my goals to provide tourist information for truly unique places like this, with its Edo-period cityscape and feel, and its friendly little shops scattered here and there amongst the old wooden buildings. I want to promote Osaka, which until recently has received very little attention as a tourism destination (even now, most focus lies on Osaka City itself, rather than the relatively poorer prefectural towns like Tondabayashi). However, I am a bit worried that, someday, peaceful little places like this may become stifled by tourists as is often the case in destinations such as nearby Kyoto and Nara. I suppose the selfish part of me wants to have the streets of this charming little temple town all to myself.😀

At any rate, I hope all readers will visit Tondabayashi once. While you are there, I also recommend (especially for the ladies) you visit “Jinaimachi terra,” a little family-run shop near the jinaimachi’s information center.

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Yours truly inside the Kastuma Residence

  1. Caroline
    August 10, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    Cool blog, what a great idea! I think touristy destinations are always fun, but you should blog about the food and stuff like that, too. I think some people get apprehensive about Japanese food, etc. so maybe some examples would help alleviate anxiety…if you catch my drift.😉

  2. November 11, 2012 at 8:53 am

    I don’t think I’d be too worried about Jinaimachi being mobbed with tourists now that you’ve reviewed it. Even such historically impressive and scenic areas such as Asuka and Uji don’t attract throngs of tourists, let alone foreigners, no matter what they try to do here to publicize them. I doubt they’d be appreciated by your average foreigner, as they don’t feature geisha, anime, samurai or any of the other items that have been exploited to attract tourists to Japan. There’s hope for those who hang around long enough to get past the “all temples look alike” phase, and actually start trying to get to know Japan, but they’re few and far between. As for the rest – best not to cast pearls before swine. Those of us who can appreciate places like this can have them to ourselves. 🙂

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