Stroll in Nara (3) – Takabatake-Cho

Takabatake-Cho is located in the west part of Nara City. It is a quiet residential area and is famous as a place where Shinto priests of Kasuga Taisha Shrine lived. There are famous temples including Shin-Yakushuji Temple in the area, but this time, I’d like to introduce you to Japanese nostalgic residences and a modern museum building.

1. Former Residence of Shiga Naoya
Shiga Naoya is a famous novelist who flourished in the Meiji Period. He designed his two-story wooden private house by himself and built it in Takabatake-Cho in 1929. This building is basically a Japanese architectural style of sukiya-zukuri, which is one of the Japanese architectural styles and is influenced by the Japanese tea ceremony; but a western architectural style, such as a dining room or a sun room, is also incorporated into it. Many intellectuals at that time gathered in his house and discussed or argued about essay or art.

  • Gate


    Tea Room

    Dining Room

    Children’s Room

    Study Room

    View seen from Second Floor

    Lawn Garden

  • Building seen from Gate

    His Own Handwriting

    Inner Court

    Ice Box

    Children’s Roomd and Living Room

    Reception Room

    Pond Garden

    Appearance of House

2. Whisper Pathway (Shimononegimichi)
A small pathway leading to Kasuga Taisha Shrine runs in the north direction from the residence of Shiga Naoya. It is not paved and extends into a primeval forest. The pathway is generally called Whisper Pathway, which was used by negi (Shinto priests assisting the chief priest of a Shinto shrine, in this case, Kasuga Taisha Shrine) to get the shrine for work. Many negi priests of Kasuga Taisha Shrine lived in Takabatake-Cho, and there are three pathways used by the negi priests to go there, the pathway being called Negimichi. The Whisper Pathway is one of the three Negimichi pathways and is formally called Shimononegimichi. The pathway has an entire length of about 500 meters and big trees of Japanese andromeda (Pieris), possibly primeval trees, grow thickly on both sides of the road. You should carefully walk on the pathway because it is uneven, with big stones scattered on it and big roots of trees stick out from it. When we went up stone steps, we saw a road having a wider width, and being flat and easy to walk on. We could reach Kasuga Taisha Shrine in a minute from there.

3. Irie Taikichi Memorial Museum of Photography Nara City
Irie Taikichi Memorial Museum of Photography Nara City, standing close by Shinyakushiji Temple, is a museum built for memorializing Irie Taikichi (1905 – 1992), who is a worldwide famous photographer for taking pictures of old Nara. I like the photos of Nara taken by Irie Taikichi, especially the monochrome pictures.
The building of the museum was designed by Kisho Kurokawa, and opened in 1992. The building has glass external walls and roofs made of fired clay tiles. Exhibitions are displayed in underground rooms. You can see his works all the time, though the works are sometimes changed. The museum has two exhibition rooms, a gallery, a library, a high-vision gallery, a museum shop, and a tea room on the first floor.

  • Entrance Hall

    Tea Room in the Back

    Works by Irie, Distant View of Ancient Nara

    Exhibition Room

    Workds by Young Photographer


  • Exhibition if Made on Underground Floor

    Left; Stone Buddha, Left: Mt. Kasuga

    Film Cameras Used by Irie

    Works by Another Photographer

    Collections of Photographs

4. Former Residence of Irie Taikichi
I’d like to introduce you to Irie’s former residence. This house is not in Takabatake-Cho but in Suimon-Cho on the west side of Todaiji Temple. The building is a reconstructed residence built in the Edo Period and so has a history, and moreover a retro atmosphere (ambience) of the good old days, and the natural landscape of Nara Park are smartly incorporated into it. People say that the residence is a valuable and precious building, which even now has an atmosphere of residences possessed by highly educated persons in the Taisho Period.

1: Gate, 2: Entrance, 3: Reception Room, 4: Tea Room, 5: Atelier,
6: Study, 7: Photo Darkroom

  • Gate


    Study this side and Atelier behind


    Tea Room

    Stepping Sones

  • Reception Room

    Extension (used as a Gallery)


    Shoji Screen


    Annex (Photo Darkroom)

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