New Season New Blog(What is special about Jogecho?)

Hello, it is nice to meet you! I’m Matthew Thome, but please call me Matt. My editor, Sage Panter, and I have been living in Japan since 2018. Although we now live in Hiroshima City, before that we lived in the Joge area for 1 year. Since then we often find ourselves returning to Joge to visit friends and enjoy the authenticity of a historically rich Japanese country town.

Whenever the hustle and bustle of the city gets us down we will make a weekend escape to the Joge area. The Peace Liner bus trip gives us time to relax and take in the changing seasons as we watch the colors of the mountain trees pass us by. Once we arrive, a short walk toward the center of town is always highlighted by the friendly morning greetings (あいさつ) of Joge locals going about their day. Life is slower, people are more relaxed, and the beauty of well-preserved historic district always brings me back to my natural desire to learn more about the world. For this reason, Sage and I will be writing articles that share our passion for the town.

Last year, Mary did an amazing Job introducing much of Joge’s historical sites, local events and goods! If you are new to visiting the blog I highly recommend going back and reading her articles on important Joge landmarks, I will be sure to link them into my future articles. This year, Sage and I are interested in taking you on a deep dive into the people, food and culture that makes Joge a must visit spot for anyone coming to Hiroshima Prefecture.

For this month’s article I walked the streets of Joge town again to take in the unique impact of the towns varied architecture. Mary showcased Joge’s Christian church here and the site is certainly memorable, but taking a step back it is the differences between the buildings that really strike me.


Here a Christian Church.


Here a Meiji era homestead.

Here a cottage-like café.

Here the antique sign of a nationally recognized traditional all-wood theatre (Okinaza Theatre).

It is not simply one thing that makes the town of Joge unique but rather the variety. The old saying “we are the sum of all our parts” comes to mind. Joge is truly the sum of hundreds of years of adding human passions together.

Having visited most of Japan’s main destinations – Kyoto, Osaka, Tokyo – Joge sticks out from these bigger attractions because for the people of Joge the history is still very much alive. While places like Kyoto, Osaka, or Tokyo will package culture and history for easy marketing and consumption, Joge gives you a chance to be part of the story, to uncover some of the history for yourself.

When I was visiting Joge for this article, I sat down for some coffee with the owner of Tenryo Joge, the guest house inn (introduced by Mary here). Ms. Morimoto is both kind and incredibly patient with visiting foreigners and no doubt when you choose to visit you will make her friendly acquaintance.

I asked her, what is it about Joge that makes it special? She replied, in so many words, with an overview of Joge’s Edo period history. The names of famous families, house names, and businesses came pouring forth with the ease of someone explaining their favorite hobby. Ms. Morimoto has something an average tour guide does not, a sense of connection and continuity with the past to this very moment.

Unlike Kyoto, Osaka, or Tokyo where many major historical landmarks are owned and maintained by the state, Joge town is still privately owned and maintained. The people of the town feel a sense of independence, of pride in the continuation of their history, because it is their history. For them sharing the past with others is not just for fun, it is a central part of their lives. Many places around the world have a story, Joge has a story, but it also has a community stage (both figuratively and literally!) to keep adding new elements to the performance.


Will you come and perform a part here too?

Please consider visiting anytime. If interested in help in English for setting up tours, or planning a short trip to Joge please contact me via e-mail here: thometeach@gmail.com


Meet the Writer and Editor

Matt Thome and Sage Panter have lived in Hiroshima Prefecture since 2018. The first year they arrived was spent in Joge. They are both in love with Japanese traditional culture and trying new things.  Together they work in the fields of English education, peace activism, and international tourism to help promote a kinder, and more adventurous, international world.




初めまして!Matthew Thome(マシュー=トーミ)です、マットと呼んでくださいね。

このブログを編集してくれるSage Panter(セイジ=パーンタ)と私は2018年から日本に住んでいます。





















この記事を書くにあたって泊まれる町家 天領上下というゲストハウス(メアリーも紹介しています)で、管理をされている守本さんとコーヒーを頂きました。彼女は外国人観光客にも親切でとても熱心に対応してくださるので、皆さんもきっと親しみを感じられますよ。





ただ歴史的なものを守るのは楽しいことばかりではないとは思います。世界中、多くの名所にはストーリーがあります。それは、もちろん上下にも・・・。地域自体がステージで(これは比喩でもあり、文字どおりでもあるのですが!) 、演目のために常に新しい題材を足し続けているという感じです。




上下にいらっしゃいませんか? ツアーを組んだり、ちょっと旅してみたい方、英語でのお手伝いが要る方は私にe-mailでご連絡くださいね。



Matt Thome(マット=トーミ)とSage Panter(セイジ=パーンタ)