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A Stroll Through The 400-Year-Old Castle Town of Tanba Sasayama

A Stroll Through The 400-Year-Old Castle Town of Tanba Sasayama

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The main road of Tanba Sasayama, Hyogo is the same as it was 400 years ago, giving the town its Japan Heritage designation. Step into town and you can set out on a journey back in time to the days of olden Japan.

Translated by Sandy Lau

Written by chia

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Sasayama, Hyogo: A Japan Heritage Town

This is Sasayama, Hyogo. The entire town is a recognized Japan Heritage (Japanese) site, cultural properties that hold the purpose of passing down the cultures and traditions of Japan. You will see traditional wooden Japanese houses no matter where you go in the 400-year old town of Tanba Sasayama.

The entire town looks the same as it did 400 years ago. This is a town where you can visualize samurai and kimono-clad women appearing from around the corners as the sounds of their zori and voices echo into the air.

About Tanba Sasayama

A Stroll Through The 400-Year-Old Castle Town of Tanba Sasayama

Photo courtesy of: Sasayama City

Sasayama is situated to the east of central Hyogo and was once called the Tanba Province. It was once a very important location as you had to pass through this area when traveling to Kyoto.

In the sixteenth century, Sasayama Castle was constructed under the Tenka Bushin (*1) of the Edo shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa and also shared similarities with Kyoto’s Nijo Castle. Sasayama is the only area outside of Kyoto where high standard buildings are found.

*1: Tenka Bushin: a type of public works that the Edo shogunate ordered daimyo (feudal lords) throughout Japan to perform.

A Stroll Through The 400-Year-Old Castle Town of Tanba Sasayama

Photo courtesy of: Sasayama City

In 2015, the entire city of Sasayama, including its architecture, songs, and culture, was recognized as the first Japan Heritage site in Japan. You can set out on a journey through time as if you have walked through a historical corridor by stepping into the streets of Sasayama.

7 Spots You Shouldn’t Miss in Sasayama

1. Sasayama Castle Ruins: The Heart of the Mountain

A Stroll Through The 400-Year-Old Castle Town of Tanba Sasayama

The Edo shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa demanded money and aid resources in order to reduce the powers of the daimyo in each region. Due to this, castles were constructed or restored in various regions with Sasayama Castle being among those that were created.

Sasayama Castle was constructed by the expert fortifier Takatora Todo. The castle was constructed with the purpose of besieging Osaka Castle, however, there are no castle towers outside a tower base. This is an interesting feature for a castle that had the ability to be engaged in combat.

2. Oshoin: A Historical Presence

A Stroll Through The 400-Year-Old Castle Town of Tanba Sasayama

The Oshoin is a building central to Sasayama Castle. It not only occupies a wide area, but its elegant exterior and golden interior are very similar to the Ninomaru Palace of Kyoto’s Nijo Castle. From here, you will come to understand that Sasayama Castle has a very high status.

Its sole difference from Nijo Castle is the fact that the roof has been painted with lacquer. You can sense the simple, great quality of Oshoin from this.

A Stroll Through The 400-Year-Old Castle Town of Tanba Sasayama

Photo courtesy of: Sasayama City

Unfortunately, the original Oshoin was lost to a fire in 1944. The current structure is a reconstruction built in 2000.

Newly established buildings in Sasayama are built as to not be taller than Sasayama Castle to preserve the view of Sasayama Castle blending beautifully together with the sky. When you look down at the castle town from the existing castle tower base, the beautifully established scenery is the same as it was 400 years ago.

A Stroll Through The 400-Year-Old Castle Town of Tanba Sasayama

Photo courtesy of: Sasayama City

Sasayama Castle is not only one of Japan’s Top 100 Famous Castles, but it is also one of Japan’s Top 100 Cherry Blossom Spots. There are over 1,000 cherry blossom trees surrounding the castle ruins.

The Cherry Blossom Festival is annually held in April when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. Visitors sing while viewing the flowers, making it very lively.

Next PageWe’ll continue introducing recommended spots, historical structures and more!
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