Tamashima is a town area located in the western part of Kurashiki city, Okayama prefecture.
With its white plaster walls, Kurashiki’s Bikan Historical Quarter is a well-known sightseeing area, but the retro-style townscape that allows you to feel the life of the people living in the town area is also part of the area’s charm.
Up until the early Edo period (1603~1867) Tamashima was a region that consisted of small islands and shallow seas.
However, as a result of land reclamation projects carried out by Ikeda Nagatsune and Mizunoya Katsutaka, the feudal lords of the Bitchu Matsuyama Castle, newly developed rice fields came into operation and a commercial port was opened, foundations for the area’s future prosperity.
During the early Showa period, boats would ply back and forth along the shipping routes, bringing vast prosperity to the area.
The new bridge that was built in 1942, and the old stone water gate are features of Tamekawa River that add to the atmosphere Tamashima’s beautiful riverside area.
Up until September 2012, the retro-style Minato water gate could be found near the estuary.
As it was chosen as the location for the Japanese film, Always Sanchome no Yuhi (English title: Always: Sunset on Third Street) released in 2005, many people have probably actually seen it.
Though it’s a pity that the Minato water gate was demolished, the nostalgic townscape of Tamashima is still in evidence here and there.
For example, Teshimaya is a business that produces and sells Tate sauce, which is popular among locals.
Established in 1729 as a brokerage company, from the Meiji era it specialized in soy sauce production before beginning to make sauce in 1933.
The architecture of the nostalgic street corner tobacconist is also charming. Most people including prefecture officials agree that the area should be designated as a townscape preservation district.
Run by the Tamashima Okamisankai Kigyo Kumiai, a group formed by women active in the Tamashima region, in 2002, WAON café opened in the middle of the Tamashima community.
The café features different chefs from local restaurants on some days and the Okamisankai women on the other days.
On sunny days a fresh wind blows through from the café’s spacious open deck… A wide variety of dishes from Indian curry, Korean cuisine, Japanese set meals and lunches are on offer! The day’s menu is published together with photographs at around 11 o’clock every morning. (http://e-madam808.weblogs.jp/waon/)
According to Okamisankai’s Ms. Mayumi Asahara, whose actual profession is manager of a fruit wholesaler, Tamashima is an area with a strong tea culture.
Entsu-ji Temple, the Soto school of Zen Buddhism where monk and a poet Ryokan (Taigu) trained in his 20s and 30s, is known for the Ryokan Chakai (‘Ryokan tea ceremony’) held every year.
Locals gather here to have tea and pass on the culture. Activities for transmitting local specialties such as the “Ryokan mochi”, sweets eaten together with tea, and “shinoudon noodles” have gained attention.
They can also be purchased as souvenirs at WAON, so remember to check them out.
Telling us that they’re delicious, Ms. Wako Namoto who represents Okamisankai recommended the hand stretched noodles served together with Teshimaya’s “Tsuyu Jiman” sauce. At the time of making this article, it was almost ‘cooled noodle season’.
A little further on from Kurashiki’s well-organized Bikan Historical Quarter, the modern Showa retro changes day-by-day, hour-by-hour. Drop by to check it out!
Place for Interaction – Café WAON (within Tamashima municipal exchange center)
Website: http://tamashimaokami.com/index.html (Japanese)
Closed: Every Monday
Location: 1 Chome 10-1 Agasaki, Tamashima, Kurashiki city
Access: Train / Take the bus from JR Shinkurashiki station and get off at Bunka Center Iriguchi stop. It’s 5-minutes walk from here. Car/ 15-minutes drive from Sanyo highway Tamashima interchange
Website: https://www.nyokimall.com/teshimaya/index.php (Japanese)
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Madoka Hori
Madoka Hori / Photo-writer Entrepreneurial translator/writer living in Hyogo. As a licensed English tour guide, she occasionally takes tourists to beautiful destinations such as Kobe, Himeji, Okayama, Kyoto, and Osaka and her clients have never got lost so far. On Setouchi Finder, as one of the original team members, she enjoys taking photos and sharing her favorite hidden gems. Private Photo Blog http://riderv328.tumblr.com Twitter https://twitter.com/Riderv328
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