This post is also available in: Chinese (Traditional)
1. Warehouses and Western-Influenced Buildings in Hakodate [Hokkaido]yamauchi/Flickrbryan…/Flickr
Hakodate was opened to international trade in 1859 and the locals’ lives have been influenced by foreign residents since then. The Kanamori warehouses were the first commercial red brick warehouses built in 1909, which was converted to an attractive shopping area along the waterfront. Several Western-style buildings including a church and some consulates are built in the Motomachi area and you can also see the influence of Western architecture in some townhouses in the area.
HP: www.hakodate.travel/cht/ (中文)
Address: Hakodate-shi, Hokkaido (Google Map)
2. Komise Arcade Street in Kuroishi [Aomori]M Murakami/FlickrM Murakami/Flickr
Kuoishi flourished as a logistic hub located almost in the middle of the main road between Akita and Hokkaido. Komise, a wooden arcade, was constructed by merchants along the main street in Nakamachi to provide shelter for their customers from heavy snowfalls in winter. The current buildings remain as they were in the 18th century and retain a traditional touch. The Takahashi residence, one of the merchant’s houses, has been converted to a nice cafe. This is an 8 minute-walk from Kuroishi Station on the Konan Railway.
HP: kuroishi.or.jp (Japanese Only)
Address: Nakamachi, Kuroishi-shim Aomori (Google Map)
3. Tono Furusato Village [Iwate]663highland/Wikimedia Commons
This village is not an actual town but a place where traditional houses of the area dating back to the 18th to 19th centuries have been reconstructed together in a rural environment. The houses in Iwate in this period were built in an L shape because they were residential areas with stables attached. They offer many hands-on activities and seasonal events held in the houses through which you can experience the real lives of local people.
Address: Kamitsukimoushi, Tsukimoushi-cho, Tono-shi, Iwate (Google Map)
4. Samurai Residences in Kakunodate [Akita]| Ray Chang |/FlickrYoshitomo Oda/Flickr
Kakunodate, a former castle town, is a popular tourist destination especially in spring for its beautiful cherry blossom trees in the samurai residence area. This place is actually beautiful all year round as it’s snow white in winter, green in the summer, and tinted with fiery colors in the autumn. The samurai residences built in 1620 are preserved well and they still have residents. Some of them are open to the public.
Address: Higashi-Katsurakucho, Kakunodate-machi, Senboku-shi, Akita (Google Map)
5. Old Town, Toyoma [Miyagi]
Toyoma once prospered as a center of commerce in the northern Miyagi region. In addition to the samurai residences and the warehouse-style old shops from the 18th century, there is a former elementary school and a police station built in a 19th century Western style. The latter two are open to the public exhibiting the way of life in the period.
HP: www.tome-city.com/rekisi/ (Japanese Only)
Address: Toyoma-machi, Tome-shi, Miyagi (Google Map)
6. Sankyo Storehouses in Sakata [Yamagata]掬茶/Wikimedia CommonsSeb/Flickr
Sakata flourished as a rice shipping port during the Edo period as Yamagata has long been known as one of the best rice production areas in Japan. Sankyo Soko was built to store rice in 1893. 9 warehouses are protected by 36 zelkova trees from the sun in order to to avoid rising temperatures and the roofs are doubled to help adjust the humidity. Now the storehouses are converted to museums and tourism spots. The zelkova lined street is very nice to walk down.
HP: data.yamagatakanko.com/tcn/ (中文)
Address: 1-1-20 Sankyo-machi, Sakata-shi, Yamagata (Google Map)
7. Ouchijuku, Post Town [Fukushima]Hiroki ONO/Flickr
Ouchi-juku is a former post town on the road connecting Aizu and Nikko. While it’s located in a mountainous area, houses with thatched roofs are lined up along the road and are surrounded by paddy fields. Most of the buildings are used as souvenir shops and restaurants. You can enjoy the nostalgic atmosphere of the old post town without the eyesore of electric wires and poles.
Address: Ouchi, Shimogomachi, Minami Aizu-gun, Fukushima (Google Map)
8. Makabe, Old Town [Ibaraki]autan/FlickrKOTOKO/Flickr
Makabe’s city plan is based on the traditional Edo period castle town. The town is dotted with over 100 historical buildings from each period, like warehouse-style shops built between the 19th to early 20th centuries and townhouses built in the mid-20th century. March can be a good time to visit when hina-dolls are displayed to the public at many townhouses for Girls’ Day. This town has been under reconstruction after the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011.
HP: www.kankou-sakuragawa.jp/page/dir000101.html (Japanese Only)
Address: Makabe, Sakuragawa-shi, Tochigi (Google Map)
9. Warehouse District in Tochigi [Tochigi]cyberwonk/Flickr
The city of Tochigi thrived with trade thanks to Edo (Tokyo) utilizing the Uzuma River. There are many old warehouses along the street called ‘Kuranomachi-dori’ and the Uzuma River. The town is dotted with historical buildings built between the 18th to 20th centuries, and some of them are used as shops or cafes. This town is a nice place to enjoy a historical atmosphere.
HP: travel.tochigiji.or.jp/zh_TW/ (中文)
Address: Tochigi-shi, Tochigi (Google Map)
10. Kiryu, Industrial District [Gunma]Sgico/Wikimedia Commons
Kiryu’s main industry has been silk textile manufacturing over 1300 years and the town is still dotted with approximately 260 factories with saw-tooth roofs built after the 19th century, though most of them are no longer operating. A saw-tooth roof is designed to provide uniform natural light through north-facing windows, since light is essential to textile manufacturing. Another attraction is the main building of Kiryu Tenmangu Shrine with magnificent decorations which show the industrious prosperity the town boasted.
Address: Kiryu-shi, Gunma (Google Map)
11. Sawara, Riverside District [Chiba]d’n’c/Flickr
Sawara, 30 minutes from JR Narita Station, flourished during the Edo period as the center of rice shipping to Edo (Tokyo). Historical buildings lined up along the canal on both sides include several still-operating shops built in the 19th century. Tourists can enjoy boat tours through the canal. If you are lucky and visit Sawara in June when irises are in bloom, you might have a chance to witness a traditional wedding ceremony of the area.
HP: www.suigo-sawara.ne.jp/ (Japanese Only)
Address: Sawara, Katori-shi, Chiba (Google Map)
12. Kawagoe, Castle Town [Saitama]na0905/Flickr
Kawagoe thrived as a resource supplier to Edo in the past. Kawagoe merchants were so wealthy that they built more than 200 stores in a warehouse-style lined along the street in the 19th century. The warehouse-style of building is fire-proof and costs more to build than a simple wooden building. Thanks to the locals’ effort to preserve the townscape, we can still enjoy the good old days of the town.
HP: www.koedo.or.jp/foreign/chinese_tr/ (中文)
Address: Motomachi, Kawagoe-shi, Saitama (Google Map)
13. Yanesen, Shitamachi Distict [Tokyo]Hidetsugu Tonomura/Flickr
Yanesen is the shortened form of the three towns’ name: Yanaka, Nezu and Sendagi. These areas were saved from bombings in WWII and redevelopment activities despite their location in the center of Tokyo. Some buildings are 100 to 300 years old. You can see good examples of the workers’ way of life in the beginning of the 20th century by strolling around Yanesen area.
Address: Taito-ku, Tokyo (Google Map)
14. Townscape with Enoden [Kanagawa]Shoma Suzuki/Flickrknakajp/Flickr
Few historical districts can be found in Kanagawa, even though many historical architecture remains. However, the landscape along the Enoden railroad hasn’t changed much since its opening in 1902. The train still runs through residential areas between Koshigoe and Enoshima stations and the façades of some houses face the narrow railroad. This style of building is now banned under modern regulations. Seeing the natural landscape through the train window is interesting as well.
HP: www.enoden.co.jp/flangu/c1top.htm (中文)
Address: Kamakura-shi, Kanagawa (Google Map)
15. Sukunegi, Port Town [Niigata]Yutaka OKamoto/Flickr
Shukunegi is located at the south end of Sado Island. The village developed as a port of call serving Kitamaebune and made a fortune between the 17th and early 20th centuries. 106 two-storied houses crowd together in a small area like a maze. You can feel you’re back in the past when you stand in the stone-paved narrow alley. The structures of the houses are unique as they were built by ship carpenters, while the interiors of these simple-looking houses are pretty luxurious. You can visit the restored wooden cargo ship called sengokubune.
Address: Shukunegi, Ogi-machi, Sado-gun, Niigata (Google Map)
16. Iwase, Port Town [Toyama]
Iwase was a thriving trading port serving Kitamaebune cargo ships from the 17th to early 20th centuries. Wholesalers made a fortune through trading, and their luxurious residences still remain in the district.
HP: foreign.info-toyama.com/tw/ (中文)
Address: Iwase Higashi-machi, Toyama-shi, Toyama (Google Map)
17. Chayagai in Kanazawa [Ishikawa]uemura/Flickr
Kanazawa had been a prosperous castle town governed by powerful feudal lords during the Edo period. Three chayagai remain in the town because they were so rich. A chaya is a special type of entertainment facility where guests are entertained by geisha, and gai means town. The architectures are designed uniquely. Walking around at night is recommended since that’s they look best, though many shops in the area are closed after sunset.
HP: www.kanazawa-tourism.com.tw (中文)
Address: Kanazawa-shi, Ishikawa (Google Map)
18. Kumagawa-juku, Post Town [Fukui]Miyabi.SHN/Flickr
Kumagawa-juku, dating back to the late 16th century, was a post town on the Wakasa highway connecting Wakasa Bay and Kyoto. The road is better known as ‘Mackerel Highway’ since mackerel caught in Wakasa Bay were loved by people in Kyoto and many mackerel were transported through it. Many of the historical buildings have been converted to cafes or souvenir shops. With no electric wires along the street, we can fully enjoy the historic atmosphere of the Edo period.
Address: Kumagawa, Wakasa-cho, Mikata Kaminaka-gun, Fukui (Google Map)
19. Akasawa-juku, Post Town [Yamanashi]
Akasawa-juku is located on the steep slope of a mountain in the southern portion of Yamanashi. This post town developed in the Edo period to accommodate visitors to the sacred mountain nearby. The number of inns decreased from 9 to 1 after the construction of a direct roadway to the starting point of the trail. This beautiful small village offers a nice harmonious landscape of a traditional residential area and nature, though it’s not easy to access.
Address: Akasawa, Hayakawa-cho, Minamikoma-gun, Yamanashi (Google Map)
20. Kisoji, Post Towns of the Nakasendo [Kisoji]
Kisoji is part of the Nakasendo highway which connected Edo and Kyoto after the 17th century. As the road ran through deep valleys and most people traveled on foot, post towns called shuku developed every few kilometers to provide accommodations and other kind of services for travelers. Some of these post towns still remain in good condition. Narai-juku, Tsumago-juku, and Magome-juku are particularly popular among tourists for their picturesque townscapes.
HP: www.kisoji.com/tw/index.html (中文)
Address: Nagano (Google Map)
21. Shirakawa-go & Store houses in Hida Furukawa [Gifu]Carol Lin/Flickr
There are many attractive old towns and villages in Gifu. One of the most famous areas is Shirakawa-go where a good number of old farmhouses is well preserved. These big houses with steep thatched roofs are indigenous to the region thanks to the heavy snowfall in winter. The upper floors were used to rear silkworms.
Address: Shirakawa-mura, Ono-gun, Gifu (Google Map)
22. Warehouses with Namako wall in Matsuzaki [Shizuoka]
Matsuzaki is a small port town in the southwestern portion of the Izu Peninsula. ‘Namako-kabe,’ a kind of wall covering, can be found all over the walls in this town. These wall designs are used for fire-and-waterproofing and are made with a white grid pattern of plaster on black slate. Chohachi Museum is worth visiting where the masterpieces of plaster paintings by Irie Chohachi is exhibited. He was a plastering master born in the town in 20th century. His works are as beautiful as frescos.
HP: izumatsuzakinet.com (Japanese Only)
Address: Matsuzaki-cho, Kamo-gun, Shizuoka (Google Map)
23. Pottery Town, Tokoname [Aichi]the.Firebottle/Flickr
Tokoname is one of the oldest and biggest ceramic industrial areas in Japan dating back to the 12th century. Pottery workshops with brick chimneys and small galleries are dotted alongside narrow decorated streets. It’s a nice walk. Tokoname is easily accessible from both Centrair and Nagoya Stations on the Meitetsu line.
HP: www.tokoname-kankou.net/taiwan/ (中文)
Address: Tokoname-shi, Aichi (Google Map)
24. Sekijuku, Post Town of the Tokaido [Mie]Haruhiko Okumura/FlickrHaruhiko Okumura/Flickr
Sekijuku was a major post town during the Edo period as three major roads intersected here: the Tokaido connecting Kyoto to Edo, Isebetsu Kaido used by pilgrims to the Ise Grand Shrine, and Yamato Kaido connected to the Nara region. More than 200 townhouses built between the 18th to 19th centuries are preserved in Sekijuku even though it is hard to find vestiges of Tokaido’s other post towns.
HP: tourismmiejapan.tw/ (中文)
Address: Sekicho, Kameyama-shi,Mie (Google Map)
25. Merchant District in Yuasa [Wakayama]Atsuhiko Takagi/FlickrAtsuhiko Takagi/Flickr
Yuasa is said to be the birthplace of soy sauce in Japan. Soy sauce and Kinzanji miso are still brewed in the traditional way, meaning there are no big modernized factories in the area. The river behind factories were utilized to ship their products. Most old soy sauce and miso factories dating back to around the 18th century are still used even today.
Address: Yuasa-cho, Arita-gun, Wakayama (Google Map)