Showing posts with label thatched. Show all posts
Showing posts with label thatched. Show all posts

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Hizen Hamashuku Thatched Roof Townscape


Hizen Hamashuku, now a part of Kashima City in Saga, lies along the Hama River. On the north bank of the river, along what was in the Edo Period a fairly main highway, is a historic preservation district, Sakagura Street, with many historic buildings and numerous sake breweries.

However, on the south bank of the river, a little closer to the mouth where it enters the Ariake Sea, is another small preservation district, known as a "thatched roof townscape".

Many of these preservation districts consist of preserved buildings of wealthy merchants or high-class samurai, but here was a more "working class" neighborhood with much smaller homes.

In a maze of narrow lanes lived carpenters, blacksmiths, sailors, fishermen, and merchants.

A cluster of three small homes that belonged to the Ikeda, Nakamura, and Nakajima families, have been renovated and offer a fairly unique opportunity to see some smaller, traditional buildings.

When i visited first in 2016 the houses were open and free to enter. When I went back a couple of years ago they were closed up.

There are several other thatched properties, some larger, and on my last visit I noticed lots of water hoses on top of tall posts, ready to water down the rooves in case of fire.

Unlike many of these preservation districts, there are no cafes, souvenir shops, etc, it is still just a funky, lower-class residential area, and therefore in many ways actually more authentic.

It is a short walk from the Sakakura Sake District and just a few minutes from Hizenhama JR railway station.

This was the last stop of my tour of Kashima on day 59 of my walk around Kyushu and from here I headed off down the coast.

The previous post in the series was the samurai residence nearby. Other Preservation Districts I've recently covered include Mima on Shikoku, and Tsuyama in Okayama.

Monday, May 22, 2023

Yokota Folk Museum


Sometimes referred to as a folklore museum, sometimes a local history museum, the Yokota  Museum is housed in a traditional thatched farmhouse that was moved to its current location and re-assembled.

It is located in the south of Yokota, a small town in the Chugoku Mountains of Okuizumo in Shimane.

The farmhouse was originally built in the very early 20th century, but was built in the traditional way. It now has glass windows.

It belonged to a relatively wealthy land-owning farmer and has 4 large tatami rooms.

Outside is a small Izumo-style garden.

The interior of the house is decorated in traditional style, and various everyday items, including clothing, is on display and the kitchen area has both a kamado, traditional cooking stove, and an irori, sunken hearth. The room is also filled with traditional utensils.

In the ancillary building are lots of traditional farming equipment, tools, machines, and clothing.

There are occasional workshops on making a varirty of things out of straw. While I visited there were no staff on hand to explain anything, and the signage was only in Japanese.

Entry is free, and while it might not be worth making a journey just to see it, if you are in the area visiting some of the other attractions, it is worth checking out.

The previous post in this series exploring the remote Okuizumo region was Inada Shrine and the Myth of Princess Kushinada. For a post on another traditional farmhouse, check Nagaoka Family Farmhouse.

Friday, May 19, 2023

Takeo Onsen to Kashima. Day 58 Kyushu Pilgrimage


Sunday February 16th 2014

I head off in the dark as I have a long distance to cover before I reach the room I've booked in Kashima tonight. On the top of a hill to the south of the town I come to my first port of call, the Saga Prefecture Space & Science Museum. I have heard that it is quite good, but I am far too early to be able to go inside, and anyway, it is the architecture that interests me. Like so many of these provincial museums, the architects have indulged themselves and created a modernist collage of protruding shapes and geometric solids reminiscent of a Sci-Fi movie-rendered space structure, freed from gravity. I wander around and get some good shots from all angles before heading off.

 It's good to be off the main roads as I cut across the hills. No commercial properties at all, and very little traffic. I feel much more comfortable as this is the kind of country where I do most of my walking. I notice that a lot of fields have wheat growing in them. I do pass a huge quarry.

As usual, I stop in at the local shrines I pass. At one of them, Uchida Tenmangu, a ceremony is about to take place so I hang back a little. There is a priest and about 8 men, all of them dressed in everyday clothes, so they are not village “elders”. I have attended many village shrine ceremonies over the years, and it is always just men. I have yet to see a woman at such an event. A later shrine was Kifune Shrine in Kawanobori.

As I get close to Ureshino I reach a bigger road and pass under an expressway. I find the place I have been eagerly anticipating, the Ureshino Hihokan, which translates as“Museum of Hidden Treasures”, a euphemism for sex museum. It would be hard to know what it was if you didn't read Japanese, as there was not a lot of signage, the most visible thing being a large golden statue of the Buddhist deity Kannon (pictured in the 3rd photo) flanked by a pair of Nio which made the building appear to be some sort of religious structure. There used to be a lot more of these places, many, like this one, in hot spring resorts, but they are disappearing. This one will be closing next month so I was glad of the opportunity to visit. 

A few minutes after leaving the Hihokan I leave the main road and take a smaller road towards the coast. All morning I had been climbing slightly, but now the road starts to descend. I notice a lot of houses have thatched roofs, rather the thatched roofs that have been covered over with tin. I am not sure when they started to do that, and you will also sometimes see a thatched roof that has been covered in tile. I do see a couple with the thatch uncovered, and one is a very large house with relatively new thatch.


At the junction in the road that leads to Yoshida the bus stop is in the shape of a tea pot. Yoshida is known for its ceramics. Further down the road I stop in at a large shrine with interesting features and history.

As I reach the coastal plain I can see Kashima ahead, a decent-sized town by the look of it. There are two pilgrimage temples nearby as well as some other sites I want to see but the sun is low in the sky so I will leave them till tomorrow. My ryokan is south of the busy town centre, on the edge of the old town so I look for a supermarket to stock up on provisions as I have booked a room with no meals.

This final pic is of a piece of kote-e, plaster-relief near my ryokan in Kashima.

Details of the previous day of this walk can be found in Saga to Takeo Onsen Day 57

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Nakane Samurai Residence & Garden in Kitsuki

Nakane Samurai Residence

The castle town of Kitsuki in Oita is yet another of the small towns in Japan that have chosen to label themselves as "Little Kyoto". The castle claims to be the smallest in Japan and the town that grew up around the castle is organized in an unusual way due to the lay of the land.

There are two bluff, kind of small plateaus with  steep slopes that in places are cliffs. It bwas on top of these that the samurai built their homes as a defensive location. The narrow strip of land between these two strips of high ground is where the merchants and lower class townspeople lived and worked.

Atop the southern bluff, closest to the castle, is the former home of the Nakane family who were, I believe, the highest-ranked of the retainers to the castle lord. As befitting their status the Nakane had quite a rage garden.

When I visited the house was occupied by a kimono rental company and was therefor free to enter and explore. It seems the kimono rental has moved to a different location and now the house is just an open house but remains free to enter.

It seesm thatdressing up in kimono to explore the town gives you free entry to all the samurai houses, museums etc in the town.

The northern bluff is actually very well preserved with many former samurai houses open to the public and is a Historic Preservation District. Many of the houses also have quite nice traditional gardens.

Buy dokudami tea from Japan

Thursday, December 10, 2020

New Thatch for Yamada Daio Shrine


Since I moved to the Japanese countryside more than 18 years ago, almost all of the thatched farmhouses in my area have disappeared. However, along the upper reaches of the Kuma River in the mountains of Kumamoto there are still a lot of shrine and temple buildings with traditional thatched roofs.

The skill of thatching has not been lost as I discovered when visiting Yamada Daio Shrine. The scaffolding was still up but it seemed that the rethachting of the roofs had been finished.

As far as I could make out the main kami enshrined here was a wealthy local landowner. It was unclear whether he was a vassal of the ruling Daimyo  or a farmer who grew wealthy later/.

Though what is called Shinto has managed to reinvent itself as a "nature" religion, much of its roots lie in deifying political power.