Taiki (大紀町 : Taiki-chō), not to be confused with Taki, is a town of about 9000. It was formed on February 14, 2005 through a merger of the towns Ōmiya and Kisei and the village of Ōuchiyama.
Organizationally within JET, its designation of what region it belongs to changes. It shifts between Central Mie and Eastern Mie, yet the ALTs also live in the southern edges of town near the Taiki-Kihoku border (the gateway to the Deep South).
- 1 Name
- 2 Town Symbols
- 3 Regions within Taiki
- 4 Getting Around
- 5 Local Attractions
- 6 Services
- 7 Shopping
- 8 Food and Drink
- 9 Recreation and Entertainment
- 10 Local Specialties
- 11 Links
"Taiki" could be translated as "Grand Kii". 「大」 in names can often be translated as "grand" or "great", and 「紀」 is an abbreviation for the old Kii Province, a large province in the Edo period which contained all of what is now Wakayama Prefecture as well as southern Mie. Ironically, what is now Taiki was not part of Kii Province.
Taiki's name actually comes from the towns that merged together. The kanji for "tai"「大」, also read as "ō," comes from Ōmiya (大宮) and Ōuchiyama (大内山), and the kanji for "ki" 「紀」comes from Kisei (紀勢).
Like many Japanese towns, Taiki has its own mascot and town flower, bird, tree, and fish.
- Mascot - Tai-chan & Kī-chan
- Flower - azalea (ツツジ tsutsuji)
- Bird - Japanese white-eye (メジロ mejiro)
- Tree - ubame oak (ウバメガシ ubamegashi)
- Fish - Japanese amberjack (ブリ buri)
Regions within Taiki
The former towns also had a history of previous mergers and reorganizations, which may be why certain regions are still referred to by their past village names. It could also be because Taiki is a "grapevine" of a town with no clear uniting center aside from the highway Route 42 itself, making it a very long town. Indeed the divisions created by the mountains and rice fields, between which the past villages have been built, simply make it easier to denote areas by the former names.
- Ōuchiyama (大内山)
- The southernmost area of Taiki along Route 42 before entering Kii-Nagashima of Kihoku (the beginning of the Deep South). Ōuchiyama is renowned for its milk. Many people within Mie (JETs and Japanese alike) will most likely not know of Taiki, or will mistake it for Taki, yet will know of Ōuchiyama thanks to the milk and its by-products in stores (and in many school lunches).
- The ALTs of Taiki live here. The Board of Education and Taiki Elementary School are also located here.
- Kashiwazaki (柏崎)
- Made up of the areas Kashiwano and Saki. Taiki Junior High School and Kashiwazaki Nursery School are located here. The convention hall can also be found here. Route 42 and 68 intersect on the Kashiwazaki-Ōuchiyama border. Route 68 leads to Nishiki and Minami-ise, as well as the Kisei-Ōuchiyama IC of the expressway.
- Nishiki (錦)
- The part of Taiki that reaches the ocean. Obviously fishing is the main industry here. Nishiki Elementary School is located here.
- Perhaps because of its relative isolation in comparison to the other areas, Nishiki has developed its own dialect.
- Aso (阿曽)
- The area south of Ōmiya Junior High School and Ōmiya Elementary School.
- Takihara (滝原)
- The area north of and including Ōmiya Junior High School and Ōmiya Elementary School. The town office is located here. It is the northernmost part of Taiki along Route 42 before entering Ōdai. You can find the Ōmiya-Ōdai IC of the expressway in northern Takihara.
- Apparently it's known for its potatoes among the locals. Logging and woodworking is also an industry here, which may be why Omiya JHS, Omiya Elementary, and Nanaho Elementary (schools part of the former town of Ōmiya) all have a wooden school building architecture that is unique among Japanese schools.
- Nanaho (七保)
- The northeast area of Taiki, sandwiched between Ōdai and Watarai. To reach it via Route 42, you must leave Taiki and go through Ōdai; otherwise, you must take the winding mountain road of Route 38 from Takihara. Nanaho is well-known for its beef, and is a big contributor of cows selected to be used for the famous Matsusaka beef. Nanaho Elementary School is located here. Nanaho can be even further divided into regions (Fuji, Eikai, Kanawa, Nozoe, Nohara, and more).
- Apparently the water in Eikai (called Koya water or 小屋の水 Koya no mizu) is well-known among the locals as quality drinking water, said to aid in longevity.
Due to the size and organization of the town, the infrequency of public transportation, and the distance from even local amenities, a car is an absolute must.
There are two entrances/exits to the expressway, the Kisei-Ōuchiyama IC and the Ōmiya-Ōdai IC. The expressway is a toll road, where you will take a ticket when you get on and pay when you get off. However, from Kii-Nagashima until Owase, the expressway is free. Since Owase is the nearest city (giving access to more resources than is available in Taiki), this road is highly relevant. This expressway is free because it is new and allegedly still serving a trial run; whether or not it will always be free is uncertain. JETs in the area should make the most of it.
There are 5 stations within Taiki: Umegadani Station (梅ヶ谷駅) , Ōuchiyama Station (大内山駅), Ise-Kashiwazaki Station (伊勢柏崎駅), Aso Station (阿曽駅), and Takihara Station (滝原駅). They are part of the JR Kisei Line. The limited express stops at none of them; the local trains are the only ones available. Wait times between trains can be anywhere between 1-3 hours. The stations are unmanned, so tickets must be taken inside the train, and paid in the front car of the train when getting off.
There is a night bus that you can take to Tokyo from Takihara. The bus stop is by Kitsutsuki-kan.
Things to See
- Takihara Grand Shrine (滝原宮 Takihara-gu or Takihara-no-miya)
- The largest and main shrine of Taiki. It is the sister shrine to Ise Jingu, one of the most famous sites in Mie prefecture and one of the most significant shrines of Shinto. It is a small shrine complex with four shrines on-site: two "betsugu" shrines and two "shokansha" shrines. The two betsugu shrines are Takihara-no-miya, which is dedicated to the sun goddess Amaterasu's "nigimitama" (spirit at peace), and Takihara Narabi-no-miya, which is dedicated to her "aramitama" (violent spirit at unrest). The two shokansha shrines are Wakamiya Shrine and Nagayuke Shrine.
- Legend has it that during Yamato Hime no Mikoto's travels in search of a place to enshrine Amaterasu, she went south from Ise and dedicated the shrine Isonomiya. From there, she traveled up the Miyagawa River, and ran into trouble when she couldn't cross the river due to the sand and swift current. The god of the land Manako appeared and helped her cross. After dedicating a shrine to Manako on the shores of the river, she moved on to the formerly named "Ōkawa no Takihara no Kuni." She was moved by the beauty of the land she discovered, and decided to establish a shrine to Amaterasu there. That shrine is Takihara Grand Shrine.
- Once every 20 years, Ise Grand Shrine does a great renovation on their wooden structures and premises. During this time, it is said that Amaterasu leaves Ise Grand Shrine and stays at Takihara Grand Shrine.
- Kōbenomiya-Yomo Shrine (頭之宮四方神社 Kôbenomiya-yomo jinja)
- A shrine in Ōuchiyama. It is a shrine that houses a "head god," so many students may go there to pray for success in passing their exams.
- There is a legend that the skull of "Karahashi Chuujou Mitsumori-kyou" (Lieutenant General Mitsumori of Karahashi?) was discovered by some village children playing in the river. They took it to an elderly villager, who regarded the skull as merely a filthy thing and made the kids throw it away and go home. The elder suddenly went crazy and heard the voice of the spirit of Mitsumori, who was angered by the disgrace and humiliation with which his remains were treated. The spirit told the elder that if his skull was enshrined and worshipped, then he would stop tormenting the elder, and bless the people of the area with happiness, and protect them and their land forever.
- Kisei Kasagi Ravine (紀勢笠木渓谷 Kisei kasagi keikoku)
- A lovely scenic area in the mountains of Kashiwazaki. It's a nice area to see the changing fall leaves. There is also an easy hiking trail leading to two waterfalls. The tea house Momiji Chaya is well-known locally.
- Kumano Kodô (熊野古道)
- An old pilgrimage route that is now a World Heritage Site. There are several trails within Mie. Taiki has a trail that stretches from Takihara to Ōuchiyama near Umegadani Station. One of the main trails of the Kumano Kodô begins in Ōuchiyama and ends in Kumano.
- Ōtaki Campgrounds (おおみや青少年旅行村 or 大滝峡キャンプ場 Ōmiya seishônen ryokô mura or Ōtaki-kyô kyanpu-jô)
- The campgrounds where the town's elementary schools have their annual camping trip in the summer. There is a sakura grove, so it's a nice place to visit in the spring.
- Takihara Park (滝原公園 Takihara kôen)
- A large park in Takihara. There are several artistic structures on display. The silver Carillon Monument in the center of the park is one such display.
- Nohara Park (野原公園 Nohara kôen)
- A park in the Nohara area of Nanaho. It has wisteria pergolas, making it a popular area to visit in the spring when they're in bloom.
There are also three locally famous cherry trees in Taiki. One is located by the Kashiwazaki town office branch, another is located in the Kisei Kasagi Ravine area, and one is located by Ryūshôji in Aso. The Kashiwazaki and Aso cherry trees are lit up at night when they are in bloom.
There is a large gingko tree in the Nohara area of Nanaho that is well-known and commonly visited in the fall. It stands in the schoolyard of the now-closed Nanaho Elementary School #1.
- Tropical Garden (トロピカルガーデン)
- A man-made beach in Nishiki.
- Ōuchiyama Zoo (大内山動物園 Ōuchiyama dôbutsuen)
- A small zoo in Ōuchiyama. There are local animals as well as a few exotic animals, such as the tiger. It first became famous in that it was first started by an old man who kept the animals and set up a zoo as a hobby.
- Aso Spa (阿曽温泉)
- A bath house in Aso.
- Hinotani Remains (樋ノ谷遺跡 Hinotani iseki)
- Two dwellings in Nanaho that were excavated and restored from the Jômon Era. They reflect the architectural style of that time.
For these places, you may still see the remaining premises and signs for them, possibly due to the lack of funds it would require to take them down.
- Green Park (クリーンパーク大内山)
- A hands-on dairy farm in Ōuchiyama. Closed in 2013.
- Ōmiya Insect Museum (大宮昆虫館 Ōmiya konchū-kan)
- A building with insect displays in Takihara. Closed in 2009.
- It's speculated that the insect displays in Ōmiya JHS, Ōmiya Elementary, and Nanaho Elementary came from the museum.
- The Hydrangea Road (あじさいの道 ajisai no michi)
- A road lined with hydrangeas in Aso.
- The Hydrangea Road in Aso may also be gone due to deer constantly eating the hydrangeas, but there is another Hydrangea Road in Nanaho.
Events and Festivals
- Kashiwano Summer Festival (柏野夏祭り Kashiwano natsu matsuri or 柏野天王祭り Kashiwano Tennou matsuri)
- A traditional festival that has continued for more than 100 years. The street is lined with paper lanterns while the locals haul a wooden wagon decked out in bamboo and lanterns with flute and drum players inside. The wagon is pulled through the street all the way to the rice fields and then taken to Tsushima Shrine. Takes place in the beginning of July.
- Isomon Festa - beach season opening (錦向井ヶ浜海開き Nishiki Mukaiga-hama umi-biraki or いそもんフェスタ Isomon festa)
- An event celebrating the start of beach season! The beach and surrounding areas are cleaned and spruced up for visitors, and food stands that aren't normally there out-of-season set up for business for the summer. Takes place in July, typically the weekend before or the same week as the last day of school before summer vacation.
- Aso Summer Festival (阿曽ふるさと夏祭り Aso furusato natsu matsuri)
- A summer festival that takes place in the plaza in front of Shunsai and Aso Spa. The main highlight is the Bon Odori. Takes place in August.
- Nishiki fireworks show (錦花火大会 Nishiki hanabi taikai)
- All summer festivals in Taiki are accompanied by fireworks, but Nishiki's summer festival has the largest fireworks show in town. The fireworks are lit offshore in the ocean, making for an impressive show. Takes place in August.
- Taiki Town Festival (大紀町ふれあいまつり Taiki-chô fureai matsuri)
- The annual town festival. It takes place in a different region of Taiki each year.
- At Nanaho Elementary on November 21, 2010.
- At Ōuchiyama Junior High School on November 6, 2011.
- At Ōmiya Junior High School on November 11, 2012. (for the Aso region)
- At Ōmyôjin Hiroba in Nishiki on November 10, 2013.
- In the Kisei Kasagi Ravine region on November 30, 2014. (for the Kashiwazaki region)
- At Ōmiya Junior High School on October 11, 2015. (for the Takihara region)
- The festival cycles through these areas in this order.
- Takihara Grand Shrine Autumn Festival (瀧原宮秋季大祭 Takihara-no-miya shûki ō-matsuri)
- A festival that takes place in the parking lot in front of Kitsutsuki-kan or the grass lot in front of the shrine. A large wooden cart carrying rice stalks from the year's harvest is brought to the shrine. Locals can then take a stalk into the shrine to hang up as offerings. Takes place on the Sunday nearest October 20.
- Go-sengū - Rebuilding Takihara Grand Shrine (滝原宮式年遷宮 お白石持ち行事 Takihara-no-miya shikinen-sengū o-shiraishi-mochi gyôji)
- An event that happens only once every 20 years. It takes place during the autumn festival. The wooden structures of the shrine are rebuilt and the white stones covering the shrine grounds are replaced. The locals gather in northern Takihara and southern Takihara (at Ōmiya Junior High School) and haul a large wooden cart carrying baskets of white stones through the neighborhoods to Takihara Grand Shrine, chanting and singing all the way. Once both groups have arrived at the shrine, everyone is given two whites stones to place inside the shrine. The last go-sengū took place on October 26, 2014.
- Girls Day Exhibit (ひな祭りお茶会 Hina matsuri o-chakai)
- An exhibit in Aso displaying various handmade dolls and crafts, artwork, and poetry. There is also a section where visitors can be served a Japanese sweet and matcha tea, tea ceremony-style. The exhibit is free, the tea section is not. You will be asked to sign in. Takes place on the weekend nearest Girls Day (March 3).
- Yellowtail Festival (錦ぶりまつり Nishiki buri matsuri)
- A local festival in Nishiki selling local specialties (various kinds of seafood), with buri (Japanese amberjack, a kind of yellowtail) as the centerpiece. You can buy a VERY fresh buri and have it cut up for you. There are also cooked foods sold, such as various grilled fish, chirashizushi and ajigohan. Takes place at the end of March.
- Azalea Festival (太平つつじ山まつり Taihei tsutsuji-yama matsuri)
- A local festival in Kashiwazaki on Tsutsuji Yama, celebrating the blooming of the azaleas covering the mountainside. Takes place at the end of April.
- Firefly Festival (祝詞川ホタル祭り Noritogawa hotaru matsuri)
- A local festival in Takihara where you can walk along a path through the rice fields lit by colored candlelight and observe the fireflies at night. At the end of the path, there is an image on the slope made of colored bottles that changes every year. There is also a mini-concert. Takes place at the beginning of June.
- There is also a Firefly Festival in Aso, usually a week after the Takihara one. It is much smaller, and has a more "backyard barbecue" feel. It's in a small area near Aso Spa.
There are actually quite a few local festivals and events within Taiki, but because they are rather low-key, they are usually discovered by luck by the JETs. Make friends with a local and you'll probably learn when and where they are. They are probably also announced via the town's PA system, but PA's are hard to hear unless you are outside and in the right location. There's also a local news channel on TV that sometimes provides a schedule for upcoming events, as well as shows video feed of recent events and happenings around town. Who knows, you might wind up on TV!
- This is where ALTs pay for their gas bill each month. It is a small shop attached to someone's home. It is near Ōuchiyama Station.
- Post Offices
- Each of the 6 regions has its own post office. Nanaho Post Office is located in Eikai. All of the post offices have JP Bank ATMs.
- Banks / ATMs
- The Taiki ALTs get set up with an account with 105 Bank, the biggest bank in Mie yet with no branch offices located in Taiki. There are branch offices in the neighboring towns Ōdai and Kii-Nagashima. Within Taiki, you will find Japan Post ATMs in the post offices, and JA Bank. The nearest ATM to the ALTs' home is one by the JA Bank located near Ōuchiyama Station. It closes at 6pm on weekdays, and 5pm on Saturdays.
- Car Mechanic
- Kakiuchi-san - His car shop is near Ejiri Bridge.
It should be noted that gas stations, even self-service gas stations all close at 8 at night (full-service presumedly even earlier). If coming from the north, the closest gas station that is open at later hours is located in Tochihara (an area in Odai near the Odai/Taki border, about 45 minutes to an hour from the ALTs' apartment). Take care not to get stranded at night.
- A general home and hardware chain store. Located alongside Route 42 in Aso.
- Kitsutsuki-kan (道の駅奥伊勢木つつ木館 Michi-no-eki Okuise Kitsutsuki-kan)
- A roadside station just outside Takihara Grand Shrine. Local goods (foods and wooden crafts) and souvenirs can be bought here. There are sometimes farmers' markets and festivals held in the parking lot.
Food and Drink
- Fresh Nishimura (closes at 8pm)
- The local supermarket. Located alongside Route 42 in Kashiwazaki. There is also a food stall that sells takoyaki. The store was recently remodeled in October 2015.
- Every Wednesday there are sales.
- Circle K
- There are 3 within Taiki: one in Nishiki, one in Aso, and one right beside Kisei-Ōuchiyama IC.
- Since the summer of 2016, various Circle K's have been changing over to become Family Mart. The remaining Circle K's merchandise have since changed to the Family Mart brand. It seems it'll only be a matter of time before Taiki's Circle K's change over completely.
- Milkland (ミルクランド)
- A shop in Ōuchiyama that sells Ōuchiyama milk and its by-products (pudding and ice cream), as well as various kinds of bread. A very popular spot in the summer.
- Kansendô (甘泉堂)
- A cake and pastry shop in Takihara. It's closed on Wednesdays.
There are many restaurants that can be found along Route 42. You can tell when they are open if the flashing lights are on.
- Hanaya (華家)
- A very small restaurant and bar in Aso alongside Route 42, right next to the traffic light for Aso Spa. It looks dingy, but the food is good. You can also do karaoke. It is run by a nice woman who is studying English, so she can hold a little conversation with JETs. Space is small inside, so most likely conversation will be had.
- Warning: Like many places in Japan, smoking is allowed indoors here. Given the size of the restaurant, this can be problematic to those bothered by cigarette smoke.
- the eel shop
- A restaurant in Takihara that serves various eel dishes. The eels are kept in a tank in the front and you can see them scoop one out to serve for your order.
- Say Shun
- A cafe that sells great dessert waffles. Located near Fresh Nishimura.
- A log cabin-looking restaurant in Takihara alongside Route 42 with a very cute interior. They sell Western-style food, mostly pasta. They close at 8, with a last call for orders at 7:30. If you come in past 7:30, you will only be able to order pasta and some fried food.
- Betokon (Viet Cong?) Ramen
- A new ramen shop (as of 2015) in Aso alongside Route 42.
Each region has its own local market where goods from the local farms are sold, mostly vegetables and handmade bread. Each follows its own schedule.
- Taiki Rakuichi (たいき楽市)
- Every third Saturday of each month in front of Kitsutsuki-kan.
- Ōmiya Asaichi (大宮朝市)
- Every Saturday in front of Kitsutsuki-kan.
- Satsuki-kai Asaichi (さつき会朝市)
- Every second and fourth Sunday of each month in front of Sankai no Sato Kisei in Kashiwazaki.
- Kanawa Asaichi (金輪朝市)
- Every Thursday in front of Kanawa-bashi Park in Nanaho.
- Genkimura (野原工房げんき村 Nohara kôbô genkimura)
- Every Saturday in front of the former Nanaho Elementary School.
- Nohara Asaichi (野原朝市)
- Every day ending in a 0 or a 5 (5, 10, 15 etc.) in front of the JA Shop in Nanaho.
- Totokin (魚々錦)
- Every day except Tuesdays in Nishiki.
- Shunsai (四季の店 旬彩 Shiki no mise shunsai)
- Every Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday in front of Aso Spa.
Recreation and Entertainment
Fishing is the major past time in Taiki, both in the river and the ocean. The bait shops are the only thing that's open 24 hours!
There is a nice spot for swimming in the Ōuchiyama River in Aso. You can also swim at the B&G community pool, located next to the BoE. You must buy membership to swim there. And of course, you can hit the beach to swim at Tropical Garden. The water is separated from the main ocean by a rocky jetty and netting, so the water is very calm, and at most the creatures you'll see are harmless fish the size of your fingers.
Taiki is a good place for hiking. Aside from the Kumano Kodô trails, there is a short mountain path on Tsutsuji Yama, which is just past the Circle K in Kashiwazaki. There is also a hiking trail up Amikake Yama, a mountain in Aso that affords great autumn leaves viewing.
There used to be a free putt-putt golf course in Ōuchiyama. You can still see its remains from Route 42.
- Ōuchiyama milk and its byproducts
- Nanaho beef (some of which becomes the famous Matsusaka beef)
- Buri (Japanese amberjack)
- Katsuo (bonito)
- Tai (sea bream)
- Ayu (sweetfish)
- Ise tea
- Nanaho no Atataka Kizuna Tea - Ise tea produced by the kids of Nanaho Elementary School
- Shiitake mushrooms
- Takihara potatoes
- Hinoki cypress lumber, furniture, and woodcrafts
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