February 20, 2018

A visit to Takayama Jinya, A Historic Government Office in Japan

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  • Right after our short trip to Miyagawa Morning Market, we then headed straight for Takayama Jinya, a government branch office established and used from 1692 to 1868. It was said to be the only existing building of its kind all over Japan, which made us all the more excited to go and see what it has to offer.

    Also read: Miyagawa Morning Market Tour: A Walk along the Streets of Hida-Takayama

    The two kind Takayama guards greeted us good morning on our way to the Jinya.

    It seemed that a lot of foreigners visited the place as the guards knew conversational phrases in different languages. They were very accommodating as they welcomed us to the well-preserved historic site.

    Guests are required to remove footwear upon entering the Takayama Jinya. Guided tours are available to tour the Takayama Jinya, but since we were with our tour guide Asa-san, she was the one who guided us during our quick tour.

    The place showed us the different sites where the daikans (head officials) performed office duties such as tax collection, finance, police actions, and other administrative duties.

    Compared to other government offices, Takayama Jinya was undeniably smaller. This was built in the Edo Period (1603-1868), and it is the only remaining Jinya (out of the 60) which has been restored to its almost original state.

    This was where Japanese government officials held meetings in the 16th century!

    The historic place looked bare to me. It was preserved to look as original as it can be which explains the simplicity of the Jinya: the floors were covered with tatami mats, each partition was divided by walls, and the ceilings were made of wood. Some artifacts are found in every room to give a better picture of how it looked more than three centuries ago. Everything was found on the ground floor.

    This simple-looking tea room is where they prepared beverages.

    The highlight of the place for me was the Interrogation room or the Oshirasu. It’s the part of the Jinya where criminal examinations are held (simply put, it’s their torture room). At the site, the suspects are made to sit on the corrugated wooden plank where a 40-kilogram block of stone is also put to their knees while being interrogated. But wait, there’s more! They also use a bamboo cane to hit suspects. Talk about torture!

    Install the TABIDO app to see how oshirasu appeared in the Edo period. We’re sure you wouldn’t dare commit a crime after you watch it!

    We also got to see how the outdoors looked like back in the 16th century. This winter view of the Japanese-style garden is the picturesque view of the garden in Edo period. It is said to have retained its image during the Edo Period. Instant throwback!

    The Japanese-style garden which retained its look from the 16th century

    A tour at Takayama Jinya will only take about half an hour. English signages are also available along the whole place. Every morning, a morning market is held in front of the office.

    A visit to Takayama Jinya is definitely a great way to learn about the Japanese government culture back in the Edo period. Make sure not miss this historic site at Takayama!


    Address: 1-5 Hachiken machi, Takayama, Gifu Prefecture, Japan
    Contact: (0577) 32-0643 (+81) 577-32-0643
    Operating Hours: 8:45 am to 5:00 pm
    Closed: December 29, 31, and January 1
    Other Facilities: Guided tour, animation cartoon (in Japanese), Shingles-making demonstration, Rentable Wheelchairs
    How to get here:  From Takayama Station JR Line, it is just a short 15-minute walk.

    Written by Jastine Valeriano

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