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Things To Do In Gojo City



Gojo City is a hidden gem brimming with historical allure and a touch of retro charm.


Often utilized as a stop on the way to Koyasan; it's a destination in its own right. As you traverse the town's most famous street, Shinmachi-dori, once bustling with merchants and traders during the Edo period and now flanked by two conveniently located train stations, you'll be drawn into its unique ambiance whispering tales of bygone eras. The machiya houses have found new life as cozy cafes and intriguing galleries, somewhat akin to Naramachi or Imai-cho. In 2010 the government designated this area as an "Important Preservation District for Groups of Historic Buildings."



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But Gojo isn't just about history; it's also a place where nature and adventure meet. The Yoshino River invites thrill-seekers to delve into activities like rafting and kayaking and in the winter months you can trade your paddles for snowshoes and embrace the snowy wonderland.


Gojo is famous for persimmons and produces more than any other area of Japan. The sloping landscape, clean water and extreme temperature differences between night and day make the ideal environment for growing high-quality sweet persimmons.


With a population of around 30,000, Gojo is the serene yet vibrant interlude your journey in Japan deserves. So, whether you're pursuing history, adventure, or simply a taste of tranquil charm, Gojo welcomes you to explore its streets, stories, and soul.




Shinmachi-dori Street


'Gojo Shinmachi' is designated as an 'Important Traditional Building Preservation District,' characterized by houses built from the early 17th century to the 18th century. It's an enchanting area where you can witness the evolution of homes over approximately four centuries, from the Edo and Meiji eras to the early Showa era and post-World War II.



Here is a brief rundown of some of the highlights on Shinmachi-dori Street.




Choco Banashi


Choco Banashi is in the location of Shinmachi's famous mochi shop. As readers of Japanese can see, the signboard above the shop still has the Chinese kanji for mochi clearly displayed. The third-generation owner operated the store until December 2018, when, due to old age, they closed it down. The building was aging and became an empty storefront. But the shop was such an iconic symbol of the area that the locals banded together to brainstorm ways to keep it going.


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A Storefront of History - The store was founded in the Taisho era. It was known for its large sign, five meters in width, with the name "Mochi Shou Ichibashi" written from right to left. Situated at the first bridge of the street (when counting from the eastern end of the street) it acquired the name "Ichibashi" (First Bridge), and it wasn't long before the store and the bridge became the default image of Gojo City.



With the assistance of Nanto Bank's Regional Business Creation Department, dedicated to promoting tourism and community development in Nara, a revitalization project was designed to entice businesses such as dining, retail, and takeout to operate the store in the hopes of it becoming a beacon of revitalization for the whole area. These types of short -lease, financially supported businesses are known as Challenge Shops in Japanese.


The project invites entrepreneurs to lease the premises for 2 years at a very reasonable rate of just $400 pcm. The current tenant is Choco Banshi who specializes in small-batch hand made chocolate. Choco Banashi has been a big success and will be looking to expand its operation after their 2 year lease ends in a few months time.


We are looking forward to seeing how Choco Banish grows from here on out as well as who nexts takes up the mantle of being part of the "Symbol of Gojo."






Address: 1 Chome-3-1 Gojo, Nara

Tel: 050-1443-0553

Hours: 11:00 – 17:00

Closed: Mon - Thurs







Machiya-kan


A building from the late Edo period, imposing and beautiful.


Having weathered the centuries, this structure has been meticulously restored to offer a glimpse into the life of a machiya from yesteryear.



Machiya-kan itself is an exhibit. Inside, you'll find the traditional architecture of an Edo-period machiya, complete with a well, a hearth, and a box staircase - a portal to a bygone era, where you can step back in time and experience life as it once was. Additionally, in a dedicated corner, discover the legacy of a literary, political and martial arts luminary, 'Atsutaro Kimura,' born right here in Machiya-kan. The corner houses a treasure trove of invaluable materials related to this great figure. Atsutaro Kimura, the first Director-General of the Public Security Bureau, was born in Gojo in 1886. He assumed the position of Attorney General in 1946. In the same year, he became the Minister of Justice. Additionally, Atsutaro Kimura held positions such as the President of the Tokyo Bar Association and the President of the All Japan Kendo Federation.



As an architectural gem, it stands out even in the midst of the mesmerising buildings along Shinmachi-dori Street. Once you step inside, you'll discover a beautifully maintained space. The building is situated on the north side of Shinmachi-dori Street which is slightly curved, resulting in some irregularity in the rooms along the roadside. It adopts the traditional architectural style of a machiya, believed to date back to the late Edo period. Its roof is adorned with hongawarabuki (flat tiles) in a kirizuma-zukuri (gable) style, while the exterior walls are finished with shirakabe-koshitsuki (white plaster with waistboard).





Address: 2 Chome-6-6 Honmachi, Gojo, Nara

Tel: 0747-232-203

Hours: 10:00 – 16:00

Closed: Monday

Admission: Free






Diorama Factory Y.N


After retiring in 2012, Mr. Noriyoshi continued to pursue his hobby of model kits which led him to participate in Shinmachi's regeneration project in which people could rent properties on a short-term basis to experiment with various business ideas.


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His project was a success so he decided to solidify his commitment and opened "Diorama Workshop Y.N" in the same premises. His shop is full of rare model kits and some amazing dioramas for visitors to enjoy.


Diorama Factory Y.N is as much a museum as it is a shop. People are welcome to come in and have a look at the amazing content on display even if they have no interest in models or dioramas. The building's Edo-era aura really adds to the experience making a stop here on your journey through Shinmachi a must.




Mr. Noriyoshi holds diorama workshops for children. He hopes that children will feel the excitement he felt as a child when he encountered model kits.






Address: 2 Chome-7-15 Honmachi, Gojo, Nara

Tel: 0747-232-203

Hours: 11:00 – 17:00

Closed: Monday - Thursday





Goshin Railway Line


Halfway along Shimachi-dori Street you will walk under a nostalgic-looking arch bridge - you may even be forgiven for not noticing that it simply ends in mid air. This is the remnants of the Japanese National Railways Goshin Line.


In the late Meiji era, plans were made for the "Goshin Railway," which would connect Gojo City to Shingu City in Wakayama Prefecture via Totsukawa Village. This railway line was intended to transport timber resources, including valuable Yoshino cedar, from the forests in the region.



Construction began in 1937, with progress made on elements like the bridge supports across the Yoshino River and the excavation of the Namako Tunnel. However, the outbreak of World War II and resource shortages forced the project to be suspended.


After the war, construction resumed, and by 1959 roadbed work was completed between Gojo and Joto in Nishiyoshino Village (now part of Gojo city). Only the track installation remained incomplete between Gojo and Joto. However, due to changing economic and social circumstances, the Goshin Railway was never realized and was officially cancelled in the late 1980s.


Despite its cancellation, the Goshin Line left behind remnants such as bridge supports and tunnels that serve as historical artifacts today.






Address: 1 Chome-10-20 Shinmachi, Gojo, Nara 637-0043, Japan

Hours: 24hrs




 


Restaurant Yoshinogawa



Restaurant Yoshinogawa boasts a captivating view through its generously sized windows. Views that are almost as captivating as the dishes on their menu. These windows frame a scene that changes dramatically with each passing season, as the surrounding trees and the gentle flow of the Yoshino River create an ever-shifting tableau. Each season brings its own charm, and the restaurant harmonizes its menu with these changing rhythms of nature, taking advantage of locally grown produce.


Inside, the ambiance is steeped in Japanese tradition, offering a serene escape from the ordinary. A small stream runs down the center of the dining area, populated by graceful koi and goldfish. It's a stylish touch and kids make get the chance to feed them too. The restaurant has earned distinction in Nara Prefecture's initiative to recognize establishments offering not only exquisite cuisine but also exceptional views. Moreover, it has made a dedicated commitment to sourcing ingredients locally, championing the unique flavors of Gojo.



In spring, patrons can relish the delicate taste of bamboo shoots, while summer brings the delectable cherry salmon. As autumn descends, diners can savor the richness of persimmons. The menu thus changes harmoniously with the seasons, ensuring that each visit to Restaurant Yoshinogawa offers a fresh and authentic experience of Gojo's bountiful produce.






Address: 449-1 Kojimacho, Gojo

Tel: 0747-230-123

Hours:

Mon-Fri: 11:00 – 15:00

Sat - Sun: 11:00 – 15:00 & 17:00 - 19:30

Closed: Wednesday & 3rd Tues of the month

Admission: Free




 


Spoon



Spoon is a delightful cross-over cafe located in Gojo city.



It looks like the kind of restaurant you would come across on the Mediterranean. The menu is a mix of western cafe classics but the highlight are their desserts.



There is a great selection of cakes and parfaits that are out of this world.






Address: 3 Chome-5-22 Futami, Gojo, Nara 637-0071

Phone: 0747-22-9777

Hours: 8:00 - 17:00

Closed: Wednesday




 


Ever Green



Canyoing, rafting, snowshoeing, trekking - if you love outdoor adventures then Ever Green is the company for you. Whatever the season, Ever Green has an adventure waiting for you that takes full advantage of the gorgeous natural environment that the area is blessed with.

Ever Green has built quite a reputation with their canyoning adventures, offering expert guidance through thrilling descents on natural water slides, challenging climbs up imposing rock formations, and refreshing dips in clear pools. If you're looking for a different adventure, you might consider their packrafting excursions, navigating forested waterways on your own compact inflatable raft. Families are welcome too, with group rafting trips suitable for kids as young as four.


There are also enticing trekking journeys and even relaxed tree-climbing activities. On certain dates, you can join extended expeditions that include overnight stays in this natural wonderland.



Keep in mind, some activities require you to bring some of your own gear like towels and swim wear, but they also offer equipment rentals for certain items.


If you need any help with bookings or inquiries, drop us a line at info@sarusawa.nara.jp and our staff will gladly help you out.




Address: 312 Haramachi, Gojo, Nara

Tel: 0747-23-0620

Hours: Spring - Autumn Full day: 9:45 - 15:30 Half day: 9:45 - 12:00 13:15 - 15:30

Fees: Full day

Adults: ¥10,000

Children: ¥7,500

Half day

Adults: ¥6,000

Children: ¥4,500




 


The Kaki Persimmon Museum


The Kaki Persimmon Museum, located within Gojo City, was established in 1994 with the aim of collecting and preserving the valuable history and utilization of persimmons in all forms as well as disseminating information about this nutritious orange fruit to the general public.




The Kaki Persimmon Museum is a unique museum that showcases the history, culture, and uses of persimmons with a collection of over 500 items related to persimmons, including traditional tools, clothing, and artwork. Visitors can learn about the different varieties of persimmons, their health benefits, and the ways in which they are used in Japanese cuisine. The museum also features a small orchard where visitors can see persimmons growing and even try some of the fruit.