Fukiya (吹屋) is a remote rural district in the forested hills of Takahashi City, about 15 kilometers west of the city center. The town developed and prospered around a copper mine and also produced bengara color pigment from red iron oxide. Its fortunes declined when the copper mine closed and the demand for bengara dwindled by the 1920s.

Bengara can still be seen on many of the district's houses for decoration purposes and to protect the wood from rotting. Below are the main attractions found around Fukiya. A combination ticket is available for 850 yen that includes entry to all the attractions except the Nishie Residence.

Fukiya Furusato Village

Hours: Varies by shop; typically from 9:00 to 17:00
Closed: Varies by shop
The village used to be a bustling town thanks to the copper mine. Today, it consists of a single road lined with red roofed houses and bengara walls. Some of the houses remain private dwellings, while others have been converted into restaurants and shops Walking through the street is almost like going back in time as many of the houses have been beautifully preserved.

Former Katayama Residence

Hours: 9:00 to 17:00 (10:00 to 16:00 from December to March)
Closed: December 29-31
Admission: 400 yen (includes entry to the Fukiya Historical Museum)
Typical Visit Duration: 20-30 minutes
Located in the heart of Fukiya Village, the Former Katayama Residence provides an insight into the life of a wealthy bengara merchant. The family business had a history of over 250 years, and its legacy remains to be seen in the residence. Visitors can learn about the bengara industry from the exhibitions in the warehouses at the back of the residence.

Fukiya Historical Museum

Hours: 9:00 to 17:00 (10:00 to 16:00 from December to March)
Closed: December 29-31
Admission: 400 yen (includes entry to the Former Katayama Residence)
Typical Visit Duration: 10-20 minutes
Also located in village center, the Fukiya Historical Museum is another former residence open to the public. Its ground floor was used for receiving guests and conducting business, the kitchen is off to the side, while the smaller second floor served as the sleeping quarters.

Nishie Residence

Hours: 9:00 to 17:00 (entry until 16:30)
Closed: New Year holidays
Admission: 500 yen
Typical Visit Duration: 20-30 minutes
Located four kilometers west of the Fukiya Village, the Nishie Residence is a large building with over 300 years of history. The Nishie family has been active in the bengara business and is still using the building as their residence. Visitors can view most of the rooms only from the outside.

Hirokane Residence

Hours: 9:00 to 17:00 (10:00 to 16:00 from December to March)
Closed: December 29-31
Admission: 300 yen
Typical Visit Duration: 20-30 minutes
Located 3.5 kilometers south of the Fukiya Village, the Hirokane Residence resembles a castle on the hill with its stone walls and two-story main gate. The Hirokane family were wealthy merchants who operated the nearby copper mine and manufactured bengara. The residence is large and includes several warehouses, a tearoom, a garden as well as entertaining space. Visitors can view most of the rooms only from the outside.

Bengara Factory Museum

Hours: 9:00 to 17:00 (10:00 to 16:00 from December to March)
Closed: December 29-31
Admission: 200 yen
Typical Visit Duration: 10-20 minutes
Located about a kilometer south of the Fukiya Village, the Bengara Factory Museum is made up of multiple restored buildings from the Meiji Period, exhibiting how natural red iron oxide was manufactured back in the day. In the process, the minerals are first baked at a very high temperature before being rinsed and sifted in order to remove impurities and finally dried into slabs.

Sasaune Mine

Hours: 9:00 to 17:00 (10:00 to 16:00 from December to March)
Closed: December 29-31
Admission: 300 yen
Typical Visit Duration: 20-30 minutes
Also located about a kilometer south of the Fukiya Village, the Sasaune Mine is one of the shafts of the former copper mine and is open to the public. The shaft stays at a cool 15 degrees Celsius all year around, and there are mannequins that give visitors an idea of how copper and melanterite, the raw material to produce the red iron oxide, was mined. The shaft is relatively long before opening up to a large chamber which leads to several other shafts.

Access

Three buses per day connect Bitchu-Takahashi Station to Fukiya Village (60 minutes, 800 yen one way). The mines and bengara museum are about one kilometer or a 20 minute walk south of the village, but the Nishie and Hirokane residences are each located about four kilometers away. As a result, a rental car is the recommended means to explore the Fukiya District. Rental car outlets can be found in Okayama, a 90 minute drive away.

How to get to and around Takahashi