Taketa developed at the foot of Oka-jo, to serve the castle and its samurai inhabitants, and the charm of an older time is apparent in the townscape to this day. However, Taketa, led by a charismatic and indomitable mayor, has worked hard to attract a younger generation of artists, craftspeople and entrepreneurs who are helping to turn the town into a low-key, yet wonderful destination.

Pleasant cafés, interesting boutique shops selling locally made Japanese-made crafts, clothing and household goods are found dotted throughout the compact town centre. A vibrant art scene is the basis of regular art exhibitions. In recent years, some of the town's older, disused buildings have been re-born as fashionable and discreet accommodation for visitors. The newly opened municipal library is an intriguing, comfortable environment and practical symbol of how the local municipality is investing in its community. For a taste of an older age, visit Tajimaya Roho, Oita Prefecture’s oldest wagashi Japanese traditional sweet shop. Founded in 1804, Tajimaya’s hand-made sweets melt deliciously in the mouth.

In April, the old days of the town are recalled by locals dressed as samurai warriors, who parade in procession through the streets and march on the castle. During the Chikuraku festival, held over three nights every November, 20,000 bamboo lanterns adorn Taketa illuminating its streetscape in a warm, flickering light.

Japan, Oita, 竹田市

At a glance

An old castle town that is well-worth a visit.

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