Translated by Hilary Keyes
Writer, translator, designer, weirdo.
All across Japan you will find 'little Kyotos' - areas that still retain the historical cityscapes of Japan's past. Ozu in Ehime prefecture is one such place and we will visit it via Google Street View today.
Kyoto is known for its historical streets, but were you aware that there are also many little Kyotos or cities with Kyoto-like historical districts to them, scattered all across Japan?
Ozu in the southern part of Ehime prefecture is also called Iyo (*1) Little Kyoto. In this article, we will visit five must-see places to enjoy Ozu city to the fullest through Google Street View.
* 1 Iyo: the former name for Ehime prefecture.
Ozu Castle, built in 1331, stood in the heart of Ozu, and the city developed around it as a jokamachi, or castle town. As a result of its age the tenshu (*2) was dismantled and the current one was restored in 2004. From this tower you can enjoy sweeping views across the center of Ozu.
* 2 Tenshu: the castle tower, the tallest part of a Japanese castle, and typically the symbol of the castle itself.
This is the interior of the castle tower. The restored tenshu stands four storeys tall and was rebuilt using domestically produced timber from all across Japan. The beams and flooring are made from 350 year old Kiso Japanese cedar, wood from Ehime was used to make the pillars, and chestnut trees from Akita prefecture were used to make the underlying floor structures.
If you would like to learn more about Ozu Castle, please check out The Rare Wooden Tower Of Ozu Castle: Access, Highlights And More.
Address: Ehime, Ozu, Ozu #903
Website: http://www.ozucastle.jp/ (Japanese)
Ozu Castle's Sannomaru Minamisumi Yagura Park has been designated an Important Cultural property in Japan. There you will find the Former Kato Family Residence, which was built by the son of Yasutaka Kato, Yasumichi Kato, the last lord of the Ozu clan. And, with the theme of "preserving the historical value of the region while granting it a friendly, softer title", this park is referred to by the citizenry as "Otonosama Park".
Ozu Castle's Sannomaru Minamisumi Yagura Park
Address: Ozu, Ozu 848-1
Phone: 0893-57-9993 (Ozu City Board of Education Culture and Sports Division)
Website: http://www.oozukankou.jp/kanko-o6.html (Japanese)
Flowing north and south across both Ozu and its neighboring city of Seiyo, the Hijikawa river is known for the Hijikawa Arashi (storm) here - a phenomena that is very rare in Japan.
The Hijikawa Storm is a strong wind that occurs only on sunny days from October to March of the following year. From the Hijikawa Storm Observation Park, visitors can see how the cold air generated in the upstream Ozu basin creates and covers the Hijikawa river with fog.
Along with Gifu prefecture's Nagaragawa river and Oita prefecture's Misumigawa river, this river is also famous for its ukai (*3). Every summer there are boat-based ukai events to enjoy on the Hijikawa river.
* 3 Ukai: a traditional fishing method using birds such as cormorants.
Hijikawa Arashi Observation Park
Address: Ozu, Nagahama
Phone: 0893-24-1719 (Ozu City Hall Urban Development Division)