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.
"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 entrance/exit to 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 entrance/exit to 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 chicken. 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.
Things to See
- Takihara Grand Shrine (滝原宮 Takihara-gu or Takihara-no-miya)
- The largest and main shrine in 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.
- 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.
- Tropical Garden (トロピカルガーデン)
- A man-made beach in Nishiki.
- 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.
- 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.
- Green Park (クリーンパーク大内山)
- A hands-on dairy farm in Ōuchiyama.
- Ōmiya Insect Museum (大宮昆虫館 Ōmiya konchū-kan)
- A building with insect displays in Takihara.
- 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.
- 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.
- Aso Spa (阿曽温泉)
- A bath house in Aso.
- The Hydrangea Road (あじさいの道 ajisai no michi)
- A road lined with hydrangeas in Aso.
- 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.
- Hinotani Remains (樋ノ谷遺跡 Hinotani iseki)
- Two dwellings in Nanaho that were excavated and restored from the Joumon Era. They reflect the architectural style of that time.
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 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.
Update: The Ōmiya Insect Museum closed in 2009 and Green Park closed in 2013. You will still see the remaining premises and signs for them, possibly due to the lack of funds it would require to take them down. 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
- Nishiki fireworks show (錦花火大会 Nishiki hanabi taikai)
- Takes place in August.
- 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 every 20 years. The wooden structures 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 wheeled structure 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.
- 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)
- Takihara Grand Shrine Autumn Festival (瀧原宮秋季大祭 Takihara-no-miya shûki ō-matsuri)
- Takes place in the parking lot in front of Kitsutsuki-kan. Takes place on the Sunday nearest October 20.
- 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 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.
- 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. Guests are few, 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.
- Chabu Okaya (ちゃぶ岡家)
- A family-run restaurant serving all kinds of Japanese food. It is the restaurant with all the flags located in Kashiwazaki alongside Route 42, right by the electronic traffic signboard. You can freely serve yourself some coffee as you wait for your food. They have really good rice bowls and eel.
- 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.
- A small coffee shop in Ōuchiyama alongside Route 42. They also serve light meals. It seems to only be open around lunch time to 5ish.
- 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.
Update: Chabu Okaya closed in spring 2015, and Ako closed on December 14, 2014. More and more restaurants have been closing as of late.
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.
- Junsai (四季の店 旬彩 Shiki no mise junsai)
- 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 yellowtail
- Ayu (sweetfish)
- Ise tea
- Nanaho no Atataka Kizuna Tea - Ise tea produced by the kids of Nanaho Elementary School
- Shiitake mushrooms
- Takihara potatoes
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