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Takamatsu, a city of art facing a jewel of the world: the Seto


Exploring Busshozan

2012.11.01 by Cathy Hirano
Busshozan in southwest Takamatsu offers an intriguing blend of old and new Japan. It originally developed as a temple town in the 17th century. Many shops and businesses arose to cater to the needs of the ruling lord and his retinue when they visited the temple, and the main street is still lined with buildings from the Edo period. Every October the lord's procession is reenacted in a highly popular autumn festival.
(see http://cathy.ashita-sanuki.jp/e480426.html )

Although at first glance Busshozan seems like a rustic backwater on the edge of the city, it is actually a vibrant hub of revival inspired by the love the local people have for their area. One of these people is Naotsugu Kurahashi, who transformed his family home 10 years ago into a very popular restaurant called Cafe Asile.

Naotsugu Kurahashi

At first glance, Cafe Asile looks like an old Japanese house.

Take a look around the side, however, and you'll see a modern concrete gateway nicely framing the cafe and the adjoining gallery.

The cafe interior is a pleasant fusion of traditional Japanese and modern elements (for example, you can wear your shoes inside) and lunch is delicious (JPY 1,100 including a small desert and coffee). This, combined with the ambience, explains why the parking lot is usually full.

Cafe owner Kurahashi's goal was to preserve his 85-year-old family home by transforming it into a space where people can enjoy tradition and history with a contemporary twist. I would say that he has succeeded. He is very involved in local efforts to preserve the best of Takamatsu's local culture while exploring creative development.

Another interesting stop along this road is furniture store, Yamanoya. The owner, a skilled and enthusiastic cabinetmaker, recovers centuries-old furniture lying neglected in local attics and sheds and refurbishes them.

He uses his artisan skills to bring each piece back to life so that it can be used and treasured for a few centuries more. The furniture looks better than new and the prices are very reasonable despite the fact that they are antiques.

There are many more places to explore on this street alone, but I have run out of space. Let me end by recommending the much loved Patisserie Higuchi, famous for their cream puffs. I tried the chocolate eclairs and they were fabulous!

All of these spots, by the way, are close to the Busshozan Hot Spring Bath, which is also on my recommended list (see http://cathy.ashita-sanuki.jp/d2012-03.html).

Access Info, etc.:
Kotoden train: Take the Kotohira liine from Takamatsu Chikko Station right beside Tamamo Park at Takamatsu port (620 yen round trip, 3 trains per hour ). It takes about 18 minutes by train and then 11 minutes on foot after that. Turn left (east) when you come out of Busshozan station, walk past a few streets and turn right (south) at the 4-way intersection. This street has Cafe Asile, Yamanoya and Patissierre Higuchi. All are past Enkoji Temple, which is on the right (west) side of the street.

Cafe Asile, 2507 Busshozan-ko, Takamatsu, TEL: 087-889-1531, Hours: 8:30-18:00, Holidays: Mondays, 17 parking spaces. Reservation recommended.

Many thanks to Kumiko and Hiroko for their help and loan of photos, and to the owners of Cafe Asile and Yamanoya.

This blog's writer

Cathy Hirano

I've lived in Japan since 1978. After graduating from a Japanese university with a BA in cultural anthropology in 1983, I worked as a translator in a Japanese consulting engineering firm in Tokyo for several years. My Japanese husband and I moved to Takamatsu in 1987 to raise our two children in a slower-paced environment away from the big city pressures. We've never regretted it. I work as a freelance translator and interpreter and am involved in a lot of community work, including volunteering for Second Hand, a local NGO that supports educational and vocational training initiatives in Cambodia, and for the Takamatsu International Association. I love living in Takamatsu.

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