Any new learner of Japanese kanji will be happy to read the simple characters of ‘Joge 上下’ (up & down) town, for this charming village in the Fuchu area of Hiroshima near Sera. A day trip or weekend plan stopover in combination with stops in Sera, Onomichi or other nearby rural spots would be perfect. Unfortunately, there was not a lot open when we visited on a sunny Sunday in November, but even then there is a lot of appeal to seek-out here.
In its current state, as a picturesque town, it’s a very pleasant place to walk around and has great visual appeal for photographers, Instagrammers and those looking for an interesting and easy weekend drive location. Only the Joge station shop, a few Japanese Inns, a couple of noodle shops and a museum were open when we visited on a sunny Sunday in November. I hope this introduction will encourage more people to visit, buy local products and show the locals that we have appreciation for the town and the quality restoration efforts they are making.
Joge is a well-preserved Edo-era village in the rural countryside of Hiroshima. The streets are lined with traditional Japanese houses accentuated by criss-crossed wall decorations, interesting retro signs of products only 80-year-olds would recognize, but which has come back into fashion. The retro signs alongside traditional artisan work and antique features is not usually seen at rural destinations in such good condition. The town is also relatively easy to access, has a few eateries and places to stay still open. It’s the historical and cultural appeal of the town that makes the trip worthwhile.
The town is easily walkable in 1-2 hours, you can take in the streets of Joge much as they were 100’s of years ago thanks to the efforts of the passionate townspeople who have been tirelessly preserving the unique and beautiful crisscrossed plaster designs of the building exteriors. There was a display in the front window of the town’s museum, showing photos and details of a plastering workshop. As an avid home plasterer myself, I asked the museum staff when the next Taiken plastering workshop would be held, but staff were surprised that this had appeal. There’s no online information, but once we get the postcard, I’ll promote it here on gethiroshima events and on social media to help promote any future Joge events here. In an ideal world, it would really help if someone in residence were sharing information outside of the town via a blog, the web or social media in our media-savvy times.
Joge has a lot of potential for appeal, but there is a danger that it will disappear unless changes are made to make Joge a more sustainable destination. Rural ghost-town problems like this are sadly not unique. Rural towns across Japan are now struggling with depopulation, and like Joge, could be revived if a few appealing goods and services were added to not only enhance tourism but also to draw in new residents and businesses. I noticed that there are some well-preserved shops for sale along the main streets, perfect for any entrepreneurs keen to move in and help revive the town.
To get there, it is most easily accessed by car as it is located just off the main road next to Joge train station. Joge is not far from a lot of other interesting rural destinations, so it is worth the long drive if combined with a stop in nearby Sera, Onomichi, Shobara or other charming areas. I’d recommend a stop in the nearby Oheso (Belly-button) bakery for amazing loaves of bread, pizzas, drinks and desserts in a refurbished traditional Japanese country house. It is run by an international couple- menu in English, Japanese and Spanish. The town itself can be covered in less than 2-hours of a leisurely stroll.
The train station staff let us park in front of the station for free. Apparently, there is a train and bus service as well although it is infrequent, time-consuming and rather expensive at 4,000 yen for a round-trip bus ticket from Hiroshima city.
Joge Posts on Twitter :
Bought some cute handcrafted souvenirs at #Joge train station 🚉 Paper wallets, soap, souvenir cookie, macaroon-shaped coin pouch All made at local senior-center it seems so purchase maintain demand, keeps money local & opportunity for local employment #sustainabletourism #japan pic.twitter.com/z8SGIQhRqn
— jjwalsh (@jjwalsh) December 2, 2018